Columns / Discourse / April 9, 2014

The international consequences of U.S. isolation

Thinking back to Vietnam and the Cold War, the United States took an increasingly interventionist role throughout the era in order to end the strength and expansion of the Soviet Union. However, when looking at contemporary American foreign policy, it is evident that the United States, under President Barack Obama, has shown significant regression toward international politics.

For example, the chaos in Ukraine that resulted in the Russian domination of Crimea has also resulted in U.S. apathy, allowing Vladimir Putin to take unrestrained action toward Eastern Europe. This regression by the United States mirrors events in Syria as well.

Due to an increasingly poor economy and deepening disparity between socio-economic classes, many believe that the United States should not involve itself in international affairs in efforts to solve domestic problems first.

Alternatively, committing to further U.S. isolationism will only leave room for greater threats against the United States and a weakling of the country’s national security. A balance should be recognized in order to ensure that domestic politics at home are stabilized as continued responses to international threats and diplomacy occur.

International response was necessary during the summer of 2014 when the United Nations found evidence of the use of chemical weapons on civilians by Bashar al-Assad. Ironically the United States took a backseat role in the issue, allowing Putin to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for configuring a plan of action, and then acting as a precedent for U.S. inaction.

According to an article by the BBC, “Under a UN resolution backed by Russia and the U.S, Syria is to surrender all of its 1,300 tonnes of declared chemical weapons for destruction by mid-2014.”

However, dangerous stockpiles of sarin, mustard gas, and VX gases were supposed to be handed over to Russian authorities by Dec. 31. By Feb. 5, only 4 percent of Syria’s entire chemical weapon arsenal had been transported to the Syrian port of Latakia to be destroyed abroad. The continuing delays combined with U.S. inactivity and apathy toward Assad illegally prolongs the stagnant stockpiles of chemical agents.

According to the head of the mission for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, Syria will be able “to meet the April 27 deadline to remove all chemical agents out of the country by June 30.”  Currently, Syria has suspended their transfers for what they claim are security reasons.

Although both the United Nations and the government of Syria believe that the transfers will resume in the coming days, prior precedent suggests otherwise.

Russia, acting as Syria’s closest ally, once stated that the complete transfer of chemical weapons to the coast for removal would be finished by March 1. That is clearly not the case.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a report that “the total percentage of chemicals either removed or destroyed inside the war-torn country is 53.8 percent.” Leaving 46.2 percent of the chemical stockpiles with the country this figure shows significant progress in the last two months. If these next 72 containers are transferred to Latakia, that would account for 90 percent of Syria’s complete stockpile. Therefore it is increasingly important that this next shipment of chemical agents be sent out of Syria in accordance with the deadline.

However, the report done by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also stated that “Syria pledged to remove all chemicals by April 13, except for those in areas “that are presently inaccessible,” which face an April 27 deadline.”

Not only has Assad’s regime been slow to organize and dispose of the chemical stockpile, but Damascus continues to get an extended deadline? Not only is the United States viewing the situation in Syria with lack of concern, but the rest of the world seems to be doing the same.

Whereas “Damascus agreed to give up its chemical weapons in September under a deal to ward off the threat of U.S. air strikes,” the United States has since ignored any issues within Syria. Although a period of domestic restoration may be necessary, the United States has hindered its own international legitimacy, credibility and future security in efforts to resort to isolationism.

Hiba Ahmed

Tags:  arsenal Cold War crimea economic crash expansion global economy interventionist isolation Latakia nuclear war nuclear weapon syria U.S. United Nations Vietnam

Bookmark and Share

Previous Post
Mandatory reporting sparks debate
Next Post
Being and Time (and Nazis)

You might also like


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.