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Letter: Selective Moral Indignation

To the Editor:

Elias Groll’s recent column puts to rest any analogy between NATO’s 1999 intervention in Kosovo and the Obama administration’s build-up toward intervention in the Syrian civil war (“Kosovo War Provides a Faulty Model for Strike Against Syria,” Aug. 29).

While listening to Secretary of State John Kerry drone on at length about what “we know” in regard to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, I recalled what we also knew back in 1988 when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to kill an estimated 5,000 Kurdish civilians, largely women and children, in the northern Iraq town of Halabja.

What I don’t recall from that time was any effort by the United States to curtail Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. But then again, why would we object? Back then Saddam Hussein was considered an ally, at war with Iran. The northern Kurds generally supported Iran. Apparently both moral indignation and hypocrisy are relative terms, subject to other interests.

The sole threat to America’s strategic security currently posed by Syria was created by President Obama himself by drawing a “red line” and repeatedly declaring that President Assad’s use of chemical weapons would be “a game changer.” Accordingly, attacking Syria is the only way Obama can now save face. All other justifications cited by his administration distract from that one unavoidable fact.

Obama’s misguided audacity in challenging Assad’s use of chemical weapons has reduced the situation currently facing America to little more than an adolescent squabble in the schoolyard — “I dare you!” “I double-dare you!” The world watches and awaits the president’s next move.

John Karol

Orford

Related

Column: Kosovo War Provides a Faulty Model for Strike Against Syria

Thursday, August 29, 2013

As President Barack Obama considers military strikes against Syria — and how to square them with international law — his advisers are reportedly looking at the 1999 NATO air war in Kosovo as a precedent. There’s only one minor problem: The Kosovo war was nothing like the Syrian conflict. According to The New York Times, White House aides are now …