Foreign Policy Experts Urge President Obama to Respond to Assad's Chemical Attack
Kali McNutt, FPI Director of External Affairs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seventy-five former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts have now signed a bipartisan open letter to President Barack Obama, urging a decisive response to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's recent large-scale use of chemical weapons. The group recommends direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime, along with accelerated efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria's internal opposition.
"Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats," the group warned in the letter. "It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable."
The full text of the letter follows. The letter was organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)3 organization that promotes U.S. diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the world.
August 27, 2013
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has once again violated your red line, using chemical weapons to kill as many as 1,400 people in the suburbs of Damascus. You have said that large-scale use of chemical weapons in Syria would implicate “core national interests,” including “making sure that weapons of mass destruction are not proliferating, as well as needing to protect our allies [and] our bases in the region.” The world—including Iran, North Korea, and other potential aggressors who seek or possess weapons of mass of destruction—is now watching to see how you respond.
We urge you to respond decisively by imposing meaningful consequences on the Assad regime. At a minimum, the United States, along with willing allies and partners, should use standoff weapons and airpower to target the Syrian dictatorship’s military units that were involved in the recent large-scale use of chemical weapons. It should also provide vetted moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition with the military support required to identify and strike regime units armed with chemical weapons.
Moreover, the United States and other willing nations should consider direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime. The objectives should be not only to ensure that Assad’s chemical weapons no longer threaten America, our allies in the region or the Syrian people, but also to deter or destroy the Assad regime’s airpower and other conventional military means of committing atrocities against civilian non-combatants. At the same time, the United States should accelerate efforts to vet, train, and arm moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition, with the goal of empowering them to prevail against both the Assad regime and the growing presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated and other extremist rebel factions in the country.
Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats. It is a dangerous and destabilizing message that will surely come to haunt us—one that will certainly embolden Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability despite your repeated warnings that doing so is unacceptable. It is therefore time for the United States to take meaningful and decisive actions to stem the Assad regime’s relentless aggression, and help shape and influence the foundations for the post-Assad Syria that you have said is inevitable.
|Ammar Abdulhamid||Dr. Robert Kagan|
|Elliott Abrams||Lawrence F. Kaplan|
|Dr. Fouad Ajami||James Kirchick|
|Michael Allen||Irina Krasovskaya|
|Dr. Michael Auslin||Dr. William Kristol|
|Gary Bauer||Bernard-Henri Levy|
|Paul Berman||Dr. Robert J. Lieber|
|Max Boot||Senator Joseph I. Lieberman|
|Ellen Bork||Tod Lindberg|
|Ambassador L. Paul Bremer||Mary Beth Long|
|Matthew R. J. Brodsky||William J. Luti|
|Dr. Eliot A. Cohen||Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken|
|Senator Norm Coleman||Dr. Michael Makovsky|
|Ambassador William Courtney||Ann Marlowe|
|Seth Cropsey||Clifford D. May|
|James S. Denton||Dr. Alan Mendoza|
|Paula A. DeSutter||David A. Merkel|
|Dr. Larry Diamond||Dr. Joshua Muravchik|
|Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky||Ambassador Andrew Natsios|
|Thomas Donnelly||Governor Tim Pawlenty|
|Dr. Michael Doran||Martin Peretz|
|Mark Dubowitz||Danielle Pletka|
|Dr. Colin Dueck||Dr. David Pollock|
|Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt||Arch Puddington|
|Ambassador Eric S. Edelman||Karl Rove|
|Douglas J. Feith||Randy Scheunemann|
|Reuel Marc Gerecht||Dan Senor|
|Abe Greenwald||Ambassador John Shattuck|
|Christopher J. Griffin||Lee Smith|
|John P. Hannah||Henry D. Sokolski|
|Dr. Jeffrey Herf||James Traub|
|Peter R. Huessy||Ambassador Mark D. Wallace|
|Dr. William Inboden||Michael Weiss|
|Bruce Pitcairn Jackson||Leon Wieseltier|
|Ash Jain||Khawla Yusuf|
|Dr. Kenneth Jensen||Robert Zarate|
|Allison Johnson||Dr. Radwan Ziadeh|
|Ambassador Robert G. Joseph|
The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.