As the Obama administration endures widespread international and domestic criticism over plans for a US military strike on Syria, pressing questions have emerged on what it is about Syria that has the White House so willing to rush a military solution.
On the face of it, there is what appears to have been a sarin gas strike against a rebel enclave in Syria - and it is assumed by Western nations that the Assad government is behind the chemical attack. Assuming the Assad regime is behind the sarin gas attack, President Obama can attempt to justify a military strike on the somewhat loose footing of general outrage.
But given the variety of outrages that regularly occur in troubled regions, particularly during the heat of a bloody civil war, atrocity surely cannot be the core measure for military intervention.
So, it is the nature of the outrage. It is the use of chemical weapons that colors the atrocity and warrants military intervention.
However, as the Washington Post notes
, America ignored the widespread use of chemical weapons during the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980's. Tens of thousands of people died horribly during that conflict, and the US did not intervene.
This time is different. But why?
Maybe the specter of a US intervention is being governed by oil interests. As CNN reported
, a grinding civil war in Syria could draw neighboring states into similar internal conflict - and those neighboring states produce vast quantities of oil for the global economy. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already openly arming the rebels in Syria, while Iran remains a staunch ally of the Assad government.
Additionally, key oil transport routes are nestled throughout the immediate region. A broader conflagration would almost certainly disrupt global oil supplies and would have dark consequences for an already queasy worldwide economy.
A Syrian strike may also be a show of muscle to Iran. Even with the recent election of a more moderate Iranian president, Iran is still moving forward with its controversial nuclear ambitions. Iran's nuclear pursuit remains a deep cause for concern among Western nations and among Israelis who worry about Iran's overall nuclear intentions.
Could the US be pressing for a military strike on Syria at the request of Israel?
In the face of EU calls for delaying possible military strikes, US Secretary of State John Kerry asked the EU leadership to delay funding bans on Israeli institutions that are active in the Palestinian occupied territories, as CBS News reported
. That does seem like a curious and incongruous exchange.
Delivering airstrikes within Syrian territory, Israel has responded to the threat of sophisticated Syrian weapons falling into the hands of Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The Syrian civil war has created opportunities for Israeli foes to exploit the instability and to acquire a variety of weapons systems - including advanced medium-range rockets and chemical weapons stockpiles.
Which brings us back to the larger question: How does any outside entity know for certain that the Assad regime authored the sarin gas attack when it is known that rebel forces, many with fanatical Islamist dreams, have acquired weapons from forces loyal to the Assad government? The murky facts on the ground do not allow for concrete conclusions, yet the White House insists the US must act with military force.
There is another narrative behind these actions, and we may never know the true impetus behind President Obama's conviction on Syria. The Syrian question is a gamble for the White House, and the outcome is one the world will have to live with.