Poll Position: If WMDs are used in Syria, should U.S. intervene?

Everyone waiting for an “October surprise” from the Middle East has tended to focus on Israel and Iran. But earlier this week, U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war was put on the table — by President Obama.

Unlike in Libya, where potential mass killings of civilians by forces loyal to then-dictator Moammar Gadhafi prompted Europe and the U.S. to side with the rebels, Syria’s 1.5-year-old conflict has already claimed 20,000 lives, more than half of whom reportedly were civilians. Monday, in a rare Q&A session with the White House press corps, Obama warned both sides in the conflict against using weapons of mass destruction:

We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region, that that’s a red line for us, and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front, or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.

It was the strongest indication from Obama yet about what it would take to pull the U.S. into the conflict, in which Syrian strongman Bashar Assad has received support and/or diplomatic cover from Iran, China and Russia.

If WMDs are used in Syria, should the U.S. intervene?

  • No (82 Votes)
  • Yes (64 Votes)
  • I don't know (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 159

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Now, an “October surprise” is normally thought to be something one of the presidential candidates does to help his own electoral chances, although it can refer to an event that happens beyond the candidates’ control. Naturally, any military action would happen because Obama ordered it, but not necessarily because he was making a political calculation. In this case, it’s not clear to me whether U.S. intervention in Syria would tend to boost or deflate Obama’s prospects of winning re-election. I tend to think it would hurt him, given that he needs his base to turn out in large numbers, and a new military conflict would be more likely to depress the anti-war left. (Well, at least they’re anti-war when a Republican is in the White House.)

But I don’t want to look at this question from a strictly, or even mostly, political standpoint. If either side in Syria were to use chemical or biological weapons against the other, would that justify U.S. intervention in their civil war?

Consider whatever factors you want, but that’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll, and explain your reasoning in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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143 comments Add your comment

East Lake Ira

August 24th, 2012
11:04 am

Use of WMDs should result in target practice on the offending Nationstate.

Give them one days notice and everyone in range should fire on them.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
11:18 am

No more nation building by the ‘great satan’. Let the Saudi’s or the Jordanians or the Turks or some other stable regional Arab power step in. Hell, even the Russians or the Chinese. They only want us there to supply our $$$.

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
11:25 am

I suppose it depends on the size of the action taken. We did not take immedeiate action when the Kurd village was gassed by an Iraqi dictator. . But later we took out the whole military complex of Iraq and many Democrats proclaimed that was not necessary and still do.

If Assas strikes one village with chemicals , the USA will probably do nothing just like Russia, China & Iran.

If Assad wipes out a large town with chemicals killing thousands, the US will call on United Nations to take action. Troops will be sent, compromises made by both sides, and everybody will take a deep breath For awhile and then……….Iran and Israel will still be glaring at each other while we watch. C’est la vie!

@@

August 24th, 2012
11:25 am

Only if the target is Iran. We could hit ‘em with an OOPS…our trajectory was off? We’ll get it right next time.

Just saying..

August 24th, 2012
11:26 am

Easy to go to war, hard to get out. That said, Obama’s military interventions have been better thought out, more limited than Cheney’s “flowers in the streets” dreams. Fewer American lives lost, less treasure spent.

a dad

August 24th, 2012
11:33 am

NO way. We need to learn that the middle east, islamic countries, etc., are not our concern. Look at what’s happening in Afghanistan, with Afghani soldiers and pilices turning on U.S. trainers. If they want to live under strict Sharia law and stay in the 18th century, more power to them. Whole area isn’t worth the blood of a single U.S. servicemember.
Let the UN take care of it. Without any U.S. involvement. Amybe then the UN would appreciate the U.S.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

August 24th, 2012
11:33 am

Don’t we have enough on our plate? Heck no, Arabs killing Arabs is an Arab problem. We have been sending money and munitions to Saudi Arabia for decades, tell them to use some of them and intervene.

Ask the UN to resolve without involving us. By the time they pass all their resolutions and find and bribe enough nations to do something, the crisis will have resolved itself.

Jefferson

August 24th, 2012
11:38 am

NO, unless you are going to go over.

Logical Dude

August 24th, 2012
11:40 am

I answered “I don’t know”, mostly because I don’t know all the sides and what they are really fighting for. (you know, like the normal uninformed American because American media doesn’t give enough information to make such decisions).

If a chemical weapon was used, I’m sure both sides in Syria would blame the OTHER side of using it. Who to believe?

An unassisted American invasion or attack would put our country on the outs with the world (again). So any use of force should be with support of the UN, and move toward a peaceful resolution.

Centrist

August 24th, 2012
11:41 am

Absolutely not.

The U.S. has led with their chin in the Middle East spending money we don’t have trying to be the world’s policemen. We are not liked for doing it, broke, and Europe/Asia that abuts the area laugh at us for doing what should be more their job.

The world is a tough place – we can’t fix the Middle East, Sub continent, Africa or any other continent. We can’t even control our own southern border in North America, and it is past time to think closer to home.

1961_Xer

August 24th, 2012
11:42 am

My knee jerk reaction is to say, “yes, we should intervene if Syria uses WMD on their own people”

Turning this issue around , though: If China/Russia used WMD on their own people, should the U.S. intervene?

You see how it appears that we should do so (in Syria) based on principle, but there is no way we would take on a China or Russia over the same issue. So if we wouldn’t move against Russia or China, how could we justify a move against Syria “based on principle”?

Gerald West

August 24th, 2012
11:46 am

I voted yes because of concern that the use of WMDs in Syria will spill over the borders to Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel.

Unless WMDs are involved, we shouldn’t interfere in what is obviously a complex civil war.

Hillbilly D

August 24th, 2012
11:50 am

It’s a tough one to be sure. If you do nothing (after WMD use), you encourage the future use of WMDs, somewhere else. If you do go in, you better be ready to be there for a long time. Three to four years is about the limit for the American public for conflict. If it isn’t over by then, they’d start to turn (assuming there was initial support).

When you go drawing red lines, you sort of paint your own self into a corner. If somebody crosses the line you drew, you either have to act or you lose all credibility and other groups/nations will start to prod for weakness and things will escalate.

It’s a tough one to be sure.

Thomas Heyward Jr

August 24th, 2012
11:53 am

“Now, an “October surprise” is normally thought to be something one of the presidential candidates does to help his own electoral chances, although it can refer to an event that happens beyond the candidates’ control.”
.
Wrong……….An “october surprise” is when a corrupt state uses an outside event to focus an incredulous and ever discontented population’s attention elsewhere for as to facilitate the continuation of wealth plunder by the ruling class and in order to minimize resistance and/or to increase the state’s power of coercion/violence….see also false flag.
.
Has nothing to do with R versus D
It is state versus liberty.
.
And to answer the “intervention” question…………it is never a good idea to murder over 100,000 women and children in order to “save” them from some “potential” threat.
.

Jefferson

August 24th, 2012
11:53 am

Are these the same ones Iraq had ? Those cost us a bunch of blood and deficit.

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:02 pm

Well, once again, if you want to get into the morality of this question, you get stuck. No matter where or whom human beings live on this earth , do we consider it necessary to save the threatened ones?

We waited on Hitler to work things out and people by the millions died. The same thing in Russia with Stalin. I give credit to the much maligned Neville Chamberlain who tried to avoid war. But he could not make it happen.

So what is the responsibility of free people to see that others are free? Oppressed people everywhere call on the strong and free USA to help them. How much is possible? lSometimes morality gets offset by reason. In the case of the Middle East, it is a continuing question of what to do with whom..

iggy

August 24th, 2012
12:05 pm

I agree with @@ in that lauch a few missles at Iran. Otherwise let the muslims fight it out. The fewer of them there are the better.

Auntie Christ

August 24th, 2012
12:06 pm

(Well, at least they’re anti-war when a Republican is in the White House.)

Kinda like cheney, saxby, romney, and their family members when it’s their time to fight in one.

Stephenson Billings

August 24th, 2012
12:12 pm

Of course. We’re the biggest reason there’s “peace” over there anyways.

On a side note, AJC just reported that healthcare costs are going to rise again for State workers next year. 2% of the increase is due to Obamacare’s mandate that insurance plans cover 100% of certain “preventative measures”. More proof that Obama was lying when he said Obamacare would reduce the cost of healthcare.

That's Goofy

August 24th, 2012
12:14 pm

C’mon Kyle stop being intellectually weak “(Well, at least they’re anti-war when a Republican is in the White House.)” If you can’t do better – then I can do your column for you.

The anti-war feelings did not blossom unti Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. He linked Iraq to 9/11 and WMD (that Reagan gave Iraq… but that is another issue.)

The majority of Americans supported action in Afghanistan.

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:20 pm

thomas Heyward,Jr 11:53

If you are referring to the USA with your “false flag” comment, I resent that. Oue flag is the standard around the world representing free people. You ahould be proud.

Then you asked, Is it right to murder 100,000 people to save them from a potential threat. Murder?

Perhaps you had rather save 100,000 people and let millions more die from oppression. You seem to suggest that is OK.

Justice is a hard thing to handle.

fair and balanced

August 24th, 2012
12:22 pm

Kyle- Like your candidate for President, your column leaves out a lot of necessary information. First of all it is only the neocons and McCain who keep pushing for intervention in Syria. The opposition is made up of Sunni jihadists just like the ones your esteemed president Ronnie aided in Afghanistan in the eighties.He was warned by the Russians that they were religious zealots who would turn on us. We did not listen and 9-11 resulted. Also our supposed ally , Iraq opposes the opposition in Syria as well as the minority Christians. So where does our interest lie? I doubt the Neocons to whom Romney is beholden are concerned on these factors since they got us into the mess Obama is extricating us from in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On the other hand , Syria has vast stores of chemical weapons.They could get into the hands of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or the opposition. The Israelis have planes in the air 24/7 ready to attack if these weapon stores are moved.They have made it clear that satellites are watching (probably ours) People in Israel are getting gas masks out of storage. Should we aid them in that endeavor???????- I think it is in our interest and it has nothing to do with politics or October surprise as you allege.

Auntie Christ

August 24th, 2012
12:23 pm

Stephenson Billings
August 24th, 2012
12:12 pm

due to Obamacare’s mandate that insurance plans cover 100% of certain “preventative measures”.
***************************************
The statement implies that recipients were paying out of pocket for these measures before. So how do you know that the insurance provider now paying 100% is not saving the recipients money?

But don’t let research and facts get in the way of a good Obama bashing.

From the Center

August 24th, 2012
12:24 pm

Past time we brought all our troops home and stop trying to police the world. We should be protecting our borders instead.

Stephenson Billings

August 24th, 2012
12:30 pm

“The statement implies that recipients were paying out of pocket for these measures before. So how do you know that the insurance provider now paying 100% is not saving the recipients money?”

Or not at all, especially if they’re not needed. Why should I, as a male, have to pay for pap smears? DLMK.

But, like you said, don’t let facts get in the way.

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:30 pm

Aunti Christ 12:06

It is time to stop posting your hate of Bush, Cheney, Romney and anybody Rrepubilcan. When there is a war, everybody cannot join the military but they can support the war at home. That is all that many can do.

The private records of people are none of your business. The military decides who to take and you do not..

Your hate is so obvious and so outdated, I hope you can find a new field of endeavor. There must be somethng you can do that pays better.

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
12:35 pm

Dusty

While the US has done much in certain areas of the world, you are aware that we prop up as many oppressive regimes then we call out and / or intervene militarily, right?

I can go on and on naming countries, but Saudi Arabia will suffice for now.

They are as oppressive as Iran, but since we use them as a counter weight we say little to nothing regarding their human rights violations. The US has not nor will they call them out. And it does not matter who is in the WH.

One more for good measure, go look up Iran under the Shah with his Savak (secret police). Those who opposed and became too loud, disappeared as fast as they do under the current tyrants.

Di the US know this was going on? They sure did. The CIA even assisted in a coup of a democratically elected leader to insure the Shah could take over.

Let’s praise the US for the good it has done around the world, however let’s not be lemmings and sheep and leave out half the story

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:40 pm

That’s Goofy

The anti-war movement against the Iraq war was just an extenuation of the Hate Bush movement that swept the Democrats when they lost the first and very legal election.

The loss of the second election just set in concrete their virulence against Bush. Democrats are poor losers. You can tell by the their posts here that such pettiness still survives.

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
12:42 pm

Democrats are poor losers.

Yet you been crying and throwing fits since Obama was elected

Go figure

Oh the irony. You must put it on everything from toast to ice cream

@@

August 24th, 2012
12:43 pm

The majority of Americans supported action in Afghanistan.

Our only interest in Afghanistan was Osama Bin Laden. After his hasty exit into no man’s land, we should’ve made a hasty exit. Afghanistan is of no strategic interest to the U.S. and yet…Obama ordered his own surge into that hopeless sandpit.

I’ve often wondered if he felt so compelled because his supporters convinced him it was the right war.

thbbpppbt

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 24th, 2012
12:48 pm

They should intervene anyway. Syria forfeited it’s right to exist the first time it mouthed off about Israel. You punk liberals are welcome to come back at me with your mealy mouths but I know for a fact the minute some ahole moved next door to you and started threatening your family, you’d call the cops.

No difference.

Same goes with Iran.

theintelligentdesigner

August 24th, 2012
12:49 pm

Bomb Iran at any cost. Do not worry about ever paying for Iraq. Leave Libya alone, oh well, it was Bush’s idea to do what Obama did anyway, so maybe we should help out. Help Egypt except when helping works, then pull out. Bomb Syria, except when it’s Obama’s idea, then it’s a terrible idea. That’s Mitt’s trail of flip flop, etch-o-sketch, .5 aced foreign policy. Air strikes and no-fly zones were working in –the no WMD–Iraq, before trillions of dollars were spent and thousands of casualties incurred. ‘Mon Kyle, flip a coin, pick. Make a decision. What about saving Israel? Don’t you care about its security anymore? You have politicized the problem, not the White House.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 24th, 2012
12:50 pm

We’d need UN and congressional approval, and issue war bonds first, lest the libtards soil themselves.

Oh, wait, those things are so four years ago.

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
12:50 pm

I report

You can turn off talk radio, take off your tinfoil hat and join the rest of the population (Dem and Repub alike) anytime now

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 24th, 2012
12:51 pm

I can’t even imagine going net door and telling the neighbor that the next chance I get I’m gonna kill your wife and kids.

He’d have every right in the world to have me removed from society.

Unless, of course, I hid behind my little UN playhouse.

They BOTH suck

August 24th, 2012
12:53 pm

Kyle

Check the post at 12:50.

I am sure that someone is name jacking.

Thanks

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
12:54 pm

I report

You are all talk. No walk

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:55 pm

Can’t Ever Telll@12:35

Nobody has said the USA is perfect .But our record is so far ahead of most other countries that comparisons are faulty. Every effort is not successful and sometimes we guess wrong. But we do have to guess sometimes.

Such as Saudi Arabia where I have heard of no upsrisings on a large scale. No bombing of civilians, etc. We are not tlooking for wars. We actually try to prevent them as far as I can tell and we do try to protect our own country.

That is often a great challenge to our leaders. We should give them credit for trying even when they make mistakes such as Obama who is making mistakes left and right.

Rright now I suggest you study the great successes of our country to offset your prevalence of looking for mistakes.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 24th, 2012
12:56 pm

Seems Rafe and I have really gotten to someone.

Thanks for the validation!

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
12:59 pm

Yep, that is NOT @@ at 12:50.

jconservative

August 24th, 2012
1:00 pm

If the Muslim world sees nothing wrong with Muslim killing Muslim, I cannot see why I should be overly concerned.

Now if Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia want to intervene and request some assistance, then I would be willing to listen.

Beyond the Middle of the Road

August 24th, 2012
1:00 pm

I believe the United States should bring whatever pressure they can bear to calm and resolve the situation. Pretty much anything and everything short of putting American soldiers in harm’s way.

@@

August 24th, 2012
1:01 pm

Could I request a better namejacker?

The one at 12:50 appears to be a porn addict.

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
1:02 pm

Dusty

Do you believe what you wrote? Again, the US has a record of assisting more than any other country as well as propping up vile regimes

There is no other way around that. You can play semantics if it gives you warm and fuzzies, but are’s is a mixed record

There is no mistake in not saying anything when you support a repressive regime. When you overthrow elected leaders to put in dictators.

As for uprisings, surely you are not that naive. Allow google to be your friend. There has been uprisings in S.A and they were crushed with a swift and might hand of their militarty and poliice

Again, let good be your friend. If you just like the good parts to make you feel better about yourself………. you know what they say “ignorance is bliss”

Honestly and forget right or left politics; Do you really know our history in terms geo-political matters on a large scale or just what you like to cherry pick or have been willingly fed?

They BOTH suck

August 24th, 2012
1:03 pm

@@

Hopefully Kyle bans that blogger once he has time to look at the comments

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
1:03 pm

google not good

Just saying..

August 24th, 2012
1:04 pm

Why should I, as a male, have to pay for pap smears?

Or schools, similar cost/benefit…

Can't ever tell

August 24th, 2012
1:06 pm

Dusty

August 24th, 2012
1:07 pm

CAN’T EVER TELL

I have not been crying over Obama. What? Mess up my mascara over that one No way.

Sometimes there is a little gnashing of teeth, but not much of that. He is ours until the end of this year. I have adjusted to that. But there has been little to celebrate and I look forward to a more competent president Mitt’s the man!

@@

August 24th, 2012
1:07 pm

TBs:

He/she/it has been permanently banned before. Either it’s impossible to permanently ban someone or there’s a team of them working together.

Maybe they have their own little threesome going on.