It is quite baffling to hear advocates of a military strike on Syria talk about how it would serve America's national interests.With thousands of al Qaeda militants permeating the northern and eastern parts of Syria, and more militias declaring loyalty to al Baghdadi and al Jolani in the southern districts, escalating the chaos that would lead to state collapse is hardly a reasonable option.
Reshuffling the cards on the ground with a military strike might have served as a tactical advantage for the Syrian opposition early on in the crisis. But certainly not now after two and a half years of mutual destruction between the armed forces and the rebels, countless acts against humanity, millions of displaced people, and vast lawless regions saturated with weapons and black markets for arms and chemical weapons.
The intention of defending an international norm, that is the ban of use of chemical weapons, can not be served by the proposed military strike. The United States must support the UN investigation into the various incidences of chemical attacks that occurred in Syria, and use its coercive diplomacy and political clout to uphold the perpetrators accountable in International courts. Agreements to send experts to work on controlling and securing the chemical stockpiles in Syria could be worked out with the future Syrian coalition government. This is the only approach that would serve the United States' credibility and interests in that part of the world.
In addition to the political obstacles facing the build up of an international coalition to support such an attack, the Obama administration is risking abandoning its "corrective" stance in US Foreign Policy. After years of promoting a foreign policy approach that differed with the Bush administration's take on international issues, the Obama administration is being influenced by Syrian Chalabies. The neo-Chalabies, who are abusing America's support for human rights principles for their own political advantage, do not have any control over the various armed militias or al Qadeda fighters on the ground. They will pragmatically adjust and abandon their "pro American" stance, once the reality of the factional infighting in Syria kicks in. By that time however, if the United States chose to strike, it would have been morally implicated in the civil war and its outcome, and entrapped by the hideous dishonor of commitments that plagues Middle East politics.
The United States military might must not be tainted by the Syrian civil war. The United States has a moral obligation to support efforts to bring both sides to the negotiation table. Years of civil war in Lebanon and the ten year civil war in Algeria did only end through a negotiated settlement, with both sides at the table.
The severe humanitarian and security crisis in Syria calls for an end to armed confrontation, not an escalation.