This semester, I was able to attend Colonel Cinnamon’s lecture on the Syrian Weapons Crisis of 2013. As a member of the United States Air Force, Colonel Cinnamon had a very unique perspective on the events that took place in Syria during this crisis and the global response that ensued almost instantaneously after these weapons were used to target innocent civilians on August 21st of 2013. I really enjoyed the Colonel’s presentation because it was extremely factual and intellectual, but was also balanced with empathy for the Syrian people. I think that, often times, when we talk about Syria and the Syrian Refugee crisis we focus entirely on the emotional aspects of the issue, saying things like “pray for Syria”. Now, I am a big believer in the power of prayer, but I find it a bit odd that many people claim to pray for a people group that they know almost nothing about. This lecture was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the Syrian people, the Syrian Weapons Crisis, and the international response that it prompted.
After over 100,00 innocent civilians were pronounced dead after this attack of civil war, the world was thrown into a panic; not only was the Syrian government in possession of weapons of mass destruction, but also prepared to use them on innocent civilian populations. Needless to say, the United States was among the first responders – alongside none other than Russia. Typically, these two nations have a rocky relationship at best; however, after the attack they were deemed as unlikely allies due to a common desire to remove all chemical weaponry from the Syrian government as soon as possible. Soon after, it was also agreed that neither the US or Russia were willing to put troops on the ground in Syria so the two international superpowers were forced to resort to other methods of extraction. Initially, I was a bit surprised that we had no plans of placing military troops on the ground; however, the point was soon brought up that after Iraq the US was hesitant to enter into another open-ended war.
Ultimately, the weapons were extracted through a Russian-led diplomatic approach that asked Syrian government officials to willingly hand over their chemical weaponry to Russia (since the weaponry had been initially developed within Russia). However, this required a great deal of cooperation across the entire global community due to the fact that Syria was unwilling to unarm if other major nations, such as the United States, were publically claiming military strikes against them. Fortunately, the Russian plan of extraction worked well after other nations agreed not to target Syria in any military attacks. I think that these events, as tragic as they are, show the power that each nation has if we are willing to ban together and cross international lines for the good of the global community – we could definitely apply this to the current attacks by ISIS.