The Loss of American Power Projection

With the non-execution of military threats to Syria, the U.S. became a dud in the eyes of many of its allies, and especially its enemies.

The U.S. is the first country in the world which stands up when injustice is perpetrated anywhere around the world, though it had been choosy in the past when it comes to its national economic or security interests. The other countries do not have the guts to stand up, and are often enmeshed in the useless argument of “non-interference” in the affairs of “other countries”.

Notwithstanding its often skewed intervention policies, the U.S. still remains as one nation which would carry the fight for universal justice to other nations who would not play by rules of international law or justice. The U.K. and France are not so driven, except when it comes to direct hit to their national interests.

Given this background, it was not surprising when the U.S. stood up against the chemical warfare attacks by Syrian Government forces on the rebels who are protesting against the government. Chemical and nuclear warfare belong to another century and should have no place in the 21st Century. However, countries still hold vast quantities of banned chemicals and nuclear weapons, often as a deterrence.

In the case of Syria, it appears that the Government wanted to send a very strong message to the rebels by the actual deployment of the Sarin nerve gas, which killed more than 1,400 citizens.

The United Nations (for a change) took up cudgels against Syria and so did the U.S. with immediate threats of military action.

It would have been appropriate to take out the chemical weapon storage facilities and send a strong message to the Syrian Government. If their treacherous and criminal actions go unpunished, the Government would only get emboldened for further use of chemical weapons against its own population.

The more important dimension is the impact the execution of military threat would have on them as a deterrence.

But President Obama missed the chance to execute. And Syrian Government is laughing its way to more attacks.

Though now peace has been given a chance by the agreement between Russia and the U.S. for the permanent removal of chemical weapons from Syria, we should not forget the following – (1) this is no excuse for the intensified attacks by Government forces using conventional weapons; and (2) the international community should realize that it cannot prevent Syria from rebuilding its chemical weapons arsenal later on.

Syria should be punished for its serious misdemeanour in violation of all international laws. And, the U.S. has lost a critically important opportunity to demonstrate that it does have the will to carry out its threats against such misdemeanour.

The world will now be a different place for experimentation by dictators.


Vijay Srinivasan
28th Sep 2013


2 thoughts on “The Loss of American Power Projection

  1. Satish Shenoy

    You do not factor in or forget the more practical aspects of chemical weapons control in this situation – it would be nigh impossible to eradicate these from an external targeted bomb method by the US. Any such threat would imply distribution of chemical weapon assets geographically to various alternate locations and which Syria had already started to implement the minute sabers were rattled. Any attempt at such bomb execution would release the gas to citizens indiscriminately and US would have been the modern perpetrator of another and more vicious and widespread holocaust than Hitler. Destruction of chemical weapons is a slow and time consuming affair requiring strict controls and environment protection measures. It was estimated that a concerted effort to eradicate these from Syria on the ground with 100% support from Syria would still imply a few years by the UN forces.

    Secondly US has always publicly taken the higher ground in coming across as the world’s protector of democracy but in reality has always had a strong and compelling reason to do so in their own economic interests – whether it be oil wealth or business to its armaments industry or to protect their economy from the repercussions at home of a disgruntled Jewish power base. Their economy today cannot survive without a war to feed it! For long the UN has been subservient to US interests in all security matters of the world.

    If Russia and China band together and decide to take on the world today they can easily do so. China does not need any other weapon in its arsenal than sale of its humungous store of US Dollars to bring US and consequently the world to its knees – financially so broken that it would take decades to recover sufficiently enough to try and raise its head once again.

    If anything Obama’s inclusive approach in foreign policy is the best route forward for lasting peace – if Russia can overcome their nascent and infantile belligerence.

    Satish Shenoy


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  2. Satish

    Thanks for your considered response.

    I agree with most of what you have stated. I understand that Chemical Weapons are difficult to eliminate, and might cause considerable devastation if attacked.

    I also agree that Peace should be given a chance.

    My concern is that President Assad will survive all these chemical weapons elimination, and continue to rule Syria in the most undemocratic and ruthless manner possible. He is not going to negotiate with the rebels or cede even partial power.

    What I did not write about, but what I actually am suggesting, is regime change.

    We need democracy in the cradle of civilization – Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran. These are the countries in which human civilization started and thrived. Today all these countries are unstable politically, socially and economically.

    Extremism in the governance of these countries need to be eliminated. How can proud peoples of these countries be ruled for decades in the most decadent manner ? Where is our collective responsibility, where is the United Nations when atrocities are perpetrated ?

    The United States has its own compulsions, I agree with some of your observations, but do we have a choice ? Any other Western nation would be even more ruthless – look at what Great Britain did to India and many other nations. These countries always act with self interest at the core of their belief and execution.

    But, the United States still has some value systems which are lacking in the countries mentioned above. People are not objects to be manipulated, tortured and murdered. Those times were supposed to be over with the Second World War and then with the closure of the Vietnam war.

    Anyway, thanks for your substantive contribution.


    Vijay Srinivasan
    29th Sep 2013

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