A Smorgasbord of Stories Surrounding Syria

Given the recent debate over whether or not the US should conduct airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria, I thought I would provide you with some of the more interesting/useful stories from the past few days.

1. “9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask,” from Max Fisher at The Washington Post.  Good starting place if you want the quick but useful basics.  Includes information about Russia and Iran, as well as chemical weapons.

2. “The Legal Consequences of Illegal Wars,” by David Kaye for Foreign Affairs.  Provocative piece that should get the reader thinking about issues concerning legality, morality, and legitimacy.

3. Speaking of legality, this piece by Louis Charbonneau from Reuters discusses the issue from the perspective of the United Nations.  The US needs to be careful of foregoing multilateralism for unilateralism once again in the Middle East.

4. “Count on Congress,” by William G. Howell for Foreign Affairs.  Short piece about the role of Congress in the debate.

5. One would hope that the respectable members of Congress will make an informed decision concerning US airstrikes.  Naturally, part of that decision should be based on the information gleaned from the testimonies of Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey during the hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).  Or, they could just gamble and play poker, as Sen. John McCain did today.

6. The SFRC “reached an agreement late Tuesday on wording of a new resolution authorizing U.S. military force against the Syrian government.”  There’s still more to the legislative process, but this is a start.

7. Finally, after the experts and legislators have spoken, where does the US public fit in to this debate?  According to the Pew Research Center, more people oppose airstrikes than support them.

Obviously there are a number of factors that need to be considered when making a decision as serious as military action.  Some of those variables are known only to top-level officials.  To what extent, however, will Congress listen to the voice of the people when making their decision?   Finally, what role will international law play in all of this?

Thanks for reading.

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