What the chemical attack in Syria means for the United States

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) Last Saturday, the Syrian Air Force allegedly attacked the Syrian rebel controlled-town of Douma with bombs containing chemicals. The attack, which included civilian casualties, has killed dozens and injured far more. The Syrian government denies all allegations of chemical use, asserting that the rebels have “fabricated” the story. Greg Jackson, an assistant professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University, joined Brian Carlson, to weigh in on this situation.

Using chemical weapons is illegal. The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention-which is a global treaty, agreed to by nearly all nations, including Syria-bans them. If the Syrian government has indeed used chemical weapons, then it has violated an international treaty. Further, this is not the first incident. The Assad regime allegedly killed hundreds with chemical warfare in 2013.

The attack has far reaching international implications. Syria’s ally, Russia, is supporting the Syrian government’s denial of chemical use while western nations, such as France and the UK, are holding the Syrian government responsible. In response to Russia’s support of the Syrian government, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Russia has the “blood of Syrian children” on its hands. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said this attack will be “met forcefully.” In response to a possible US military response against Syria, Russia’s representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, has warned “grave repercussions” may follow. In short, this attack is deepening the wedge between Russia and the West.

It is possible that the Assad regime used chemical weapons to test the resolve of the United States. Whether this is the case or not, the situation places the Trump Administration in a difficult position: it can send US troops to Syria, which runs the risk of escalating the Syrian Civil War; or it can choose not to send troops, which will make the US look weak and embolden Syria’s government and its allies (Russia and Iran). Either choice carries risks.

For more information about Integrated Studies, or Utah Valley University, visit www.UVU.edu/IS.

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