Applying Lessons From 9/11 To Syria
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Aired 9/11/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Ric Epps, Political Science professor, San Diego State University
Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Asst Professor of Middle East Studies, Cal State San Marcos
Ceremonies of remembrance are once again marking the anniversary of the attacks on 9/11.
And once again, America is contemplating a military strike against a country in the Middle East in retaliation for a deadly attack. This time, it's an alleged attack by the Syrian government against its own people.
Now, the country faces a dilemma: Should we move forward with plans for a military strike or push toward a diplomatic solution of ridding Syria of its chemical weapons? President Obama presented these options in a Tuesday night speech when making his case for action in the Middle Eastern country.
"Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that is so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, 'Those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights'? It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists," he said.
But Obama pointed to the role of Al Qaeda in the Syrian civil war.
"But Al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death," he said.
However, UC San Marcos Middle Eastern history professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi said the president left many questions unanswered.
"Did al-Assad actually order those weapons? He's basing this military strike on the intelligence he has. It was ambiguous. He just said that chemical weapons were fired from a regime-controlled area," Ibrahim said of president's remarks. "And what I was looking for, the most important thing, has the command of control of chemical weapons in Syria broken down?"
Fox News San Diego analyst and former San Diego State University political science teacher Ric Epps said it is unclear how the alternative to military action — obtaining and destroying Syria's chemical weapons — would be carried out.
"If you're going to have access to them during a civil war, what's the mechanism to have that happen?" he said. "And the next thing is, how are you going to destroy them? Are you going to destroy the infrastructure so they can no longer manufacture them? So that's a lot of things that are problematic."
Epps also pointed out that Russia and the U.S. disagree over what should happen if Syria doesn't give up it's chemical weapons. The U.S. wants the country to be held accountable while Russia wants the threat of force to be removed off the table.