A Curious Bystander

Megan Chrisler, Features Editor

Nancy Pelosi recently stated that Obama didn’t draw the red line against Syria using chemical weapons; humanity did. Despite disagreement on the behalf of the American people, President Barack Obama supported this statement just the next day in Sweden.

“I didn’t set a red line…The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s  population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent,” Obama said.

This is true. According to international law, it is illegal to use chemical weapons, whether in a state of warfare or not. Obama himself has never outlawed chemical weapons; the international community, which Pelosi calls “humanity,” did, and so did Congress in 2003, specifically against Syria.

This is not the problem with the Syrian crisis, however. Nobody supports the use of chemical weapons in any country for any reason; let alone against innocent civilians. The American public is not disagreeing with either Obama or the international community with this. The problem America has with the Syrian crisis is American involvement in it.

“We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that [chemical warfare]’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said at a press conference on Aug. 20, 2012.

Notice the terms “we” and “us.” Does that sound like the international community speaking?

Yes, the world set a red line before Obama did. I would even go so far as to agree with Pelosi that humanity has drawn a red line against chemical warfare. However, nobody else is as far in the progress of executing a military strike as we are.In fact, FactCheck.org said that, “Neither the Chemical Weapons Convention nor the Syria Accountability Act authorizes the use of unilateral military force to enforce violations.” Humanity may have drawn a red line against chemical warfare, but Obama drew a red line for military strikes.

Now we must ask ourselves, is it ethical to ban chemical warfare and do nothing about it? Is America doing the right thing by involving itself in an issue—one that needs a red line—that no one else is willing to deal with? Some say that Obama has no choice; his credibility is at stake, and what kind of world leader doesn’t keep promises? But that’s the problem—it seems to be on America’s shoulders to deal with the situation, when it was the world who first said that this is illegal and inhumane. If the world doesn’t like us and is gradually entering a globalized economy, signaling the end of American supreme power, it should put its money where its mouth is and deal with the situation.