The shocking images of bodies of children who were attacked with chemical weapons by Assad’s army evoke in the heart of every Jew the memory of the Holocaust and the horrors our nation suffered just 70 years ago. The desire to intervene in Syria to stop the horror is a worthy human reaction that originates from the heart of every civil person, and certainly from the heart of every Jew.
The situation in which a head of state dares to use chemical weapons in such a cruel way and in violation of all international treaties is dangerous, and the absence of a response by the international community, headed by the US, may be perceived as giving legitimacy to the use of such weapons. The US, as the leader of the free world, preaches to the world’s countries about their conduct, preserves American interests while obligating a country to apologize to another, promotes American interests, and more. But alongside these rights that come with being a superpower, the US is obligated to lead the free world in accordance with the guidelines of international law and serve as the world’s “police officer.”
The international system, and mainly the UN Security Council, is paralyzed: There are clear interests in Syria, and as a result of this the US cannot pass in the UNSC a resolution on a military operation against Assad. But the UN’s paralysis should not discourage the Americans, who in a few years will no longer be dependent on oil from the Middle East. The US can recruit the European bloc, Turkey and maybe a number of Arab countries who are vehemently opposed to Iran and Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria – and act against Assad’s cruelty.
It is important that such an operation be carried out not too long after Assad’s chemical attack, and it does not have to be extensive or include soldiers on the ground in Damascus – an operation which requires much preparation. The operation should consist of attacks on government assets as a deterring message and in order to prevent further use of chemical weapons, and preparations for an extensive ground operation, also as a deterrent.
It appears that the Americans, with the cooperation of European countries, are capable of launching the first phase of the operation in a relatively short period of time and begin attacking government assets with cruise missiles fired from warships – thus preventing further use of these horrific weapons.
Despite the urge to intervene, the State of Israel is committed, first and foremost, to its own security interests. Despite the desire to respond and put Assad in his place in the wake of the chemical attack launched by his army, Israel must continue its excellent cooperation with the US Military and offer intelligence assistance as needed while continuing to monitor the developments and remaining alert, so that we will be able to operate only if chemical weapons make their way from Syria to Hezbollah.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eliezer Marom is a former commander of the Israeli Navy