(…means zilch on the ground…)

The report of a recent chemical weapon attack in Syria on a rebel held suburb of Damascus, against non-combatant civilians, complete with vivid videos of its effects on them, shows how desperate things have become there.

The way it was launched in the early morning hours (to avoid daytime temperatures and wind that could disperse its poisonous cloud), by coordinated and concentrated shell fire, indicates it was a carefully planned and calculated act intended to further terrorize and demoralize opponents of the Assad regime.

To suggest that this was done by anyone else flies in the face of commonsense and reality. The regime’s forces are the only ones with both the means and the capability to mount such an attack. The regime’s opponents, on the other hand, have barely had enough basic firepower to stand their ground, nor is it likely that they would use such weaponry on their own people even if they had, somehow, gotten their hands them. They would much more likely have aimed such things at key principals of the Assad regime instead. The fact that a UN investigating team is in Damascus is a further indication of who the suspects in this incident are thought to be.

Meanwhile that red-line-in-the-sand, so often drawn by our President, means…zilch on the ground…since it’s not likely anyone is prepared to enforce it with direct action.  It’s simply more of the same eunuch-speak rhetoric we’ve heard since the beginning of this conflict almost three years ago; and, since it is also obvious that the US is not about to engage in another boots-on-the-ground foray into Middle Eastern affairs, the use of such macho rhetorical exclamations as statements of foreign policy just make the US appear even more impotent than it is, not to mention sillier than ever. Threats have no meaning without some clear sign there’s a bite pending behind them.

Of course, the US is not alone in this sorry mess. The rest of the world has shown the same kind of linguini-like posture  by taking refuge behind the façade of that tried and true diplomatic dodge of…not infringing on a government’s “sovereignty.” In this case, the Assad regime lost whatever legitimacy and sovereignty it might have had the day it turned its military forces’ guns on its own citizens who, at the time, were peacefully protesting its excesses of authority. It was that act which set off what has now become a very, very nasty civil war. As we know from our own experience, civil wars, are anything but, and inevitably descend into mutual episodes of bloody-minded barbarism, with both parties involved being the worse that they can be.

In this instance, however, this Assad ruling thug regime is clearly the aggressor and instigator of this conflict, and the world community should declare it a rogue state no longer recognized as a legitimate authority, and having thus forfeited its claim of “sovereignty” because of that. Had this been done much earlier on, there would have been much less bloodshed and destruction inflicted on that country.

As it is, because the world community has failed to intervene, the Syrian people have taken to voting with…their feet…heading by the tens of thousands as refugees into neighboring countries and a very uncertain future. So if the world community is to redeem itself perhaps now is the time for it to quit pussy-footing around and take some meaningful actions instead. Among these it should consider the following:

1)     Call for a special session of the UN General Assembly, at which time all its members will be asked to declare the Assad regime no longer a legitimate and sovereign authority in Syria, and all members to severe their respective diplomatic ties with it.

2)    Call upon those members whose territories border with Syria to impose a 25Km deep safe haven zone within Syrian territory all along their borders with it, prohibiting any air or ground actions within it by the Assad regime’s forces, and authorizing such members to enforce that prohibition with all necessary means they have to do so..

3)    Call upon all the Syrian elements in conflict with the Assad regime, to organize and formally establish an interim –Free Syrian Authority- to begin the process of re-establishing a legitimate government for Syria, which the UN can then recognize as the only legitimate and “sovereign” interim authority in Syria until a new one is established.

As for any US contribution to such an effort, it might consider using its drone technology to help enforce what amounts to a wide belt of “no fly and no fire” zones all along Syria’s borders, thereby reducing the Assad regime’s advantages of air and ground firepower, while providing the –Free Syrians – safe areas to begin re-organizing for the reconstruction of their country.

Perhaps then that “Red Line” in its sands…might actually mean…something.