So I want to start with my thoughts on the current mess in Syria and the approach of American Government Policy.
Who Gassed Who
The United States government lacks the Humanint to give us a good picture on whats going on in the Syrian Regime, and we don't have the humanint to give us a good picture of whats happening in the Syrian Polity. What we can do is take readily available facts and make reasonable deductions.
SYRIA HAS HAD A NON CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS PROGRAM
NTI: Chemical Weapons Profile, Syria
NTI: Biological Weapons Profile, Syria
NTI: Nuclear Weapons Profile, Syria
NTI is a very good resource on publicly available data on Non-conventional weapons. I highly recommend looking at it.
Syria has used brutal means against Islamists in the past
While I mock the Mustache of Understanding, Thomas Friedman, he did a great job in detailing a fact of the prior Assad Regime.
In February 1982," Friedman wrote in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, "President Assad decided to end his Hama problem once and for all. With his sad eyes and ironic grin, Assad always looked to me like a man who had long ago been stripped of any illusions about human nature. Since fully taking power in 1970, he has managed to rule Syria longer than any man in the post-World War II era. He has done so by always playing by his own rules. His own rules, I discovered, were Hama Rules."
On Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 1 a.m., the assault on Hama, a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, began. It was a cold, drizzly night. The city turned into a scene of civil war as Muslim Brotherhood gunmen immediately responded to the attack. When close-quarter combat looked to disadvantage the Syrian forces of Rifaat Assad, he turned tanks loose on Hama, and over the next several weeks, large parts of the city were demolished and thousands executed or killed in the battles. "When I drove into Hama at the end of May," Friedman wrote, "I found three areas of the city that had been totally flattened--each the size of four football fields and covered with the yellowish tint of crushed concrete."
In the Hama Massacre some 20,000 people were brutally murdered by the Syrian government. The young officers in the Syrian Military who took part in this crime against humanity are now the Generals and Colonels in the Syrian Army. These are men who understand that "total war" is the only way to preserve Arab Socialism from Islamism. The younger President Assad transitioned into power on the backs of the support of these very loyalists of his father. And when the Muslim Brotherhood takes down Egypt and their ideological Kin are there... these are men who would give the order to gas their own people based on prior conduct.
If the Rebels did the gassing we have much more troubling questions we need to ask ourselves.
If the rebels got the gas that means they got it from a formerly loyal member of the Assad Regime, or the Assad Regime is hiding the extent of its powerlessness. If they stole the Gas who educated them on how to use it? Any other means for the rebels to get the gas is suggestive of a conspiracy that is to silly to contemplate in a serious discussion. And the fact the rebels would not only have to seize the gas they would also have to have proper training in its use. While it is POSSIBLE they have the gas, here is a better question: Why would they gas civilians in areas loyal to them? While a rifle bullet has less probability of killing then Sarin, it has the ability to kill exactly who you want it to kill. Killing their own people to make Assad look bad is a Xanatos Gambit that has a POSSIBILITY of working but a probability of making you look foolish.
So: While we do not have Assad going to a General saying "Its Sarin time" we know that his officers are men who will go to any extent to preserve their power, and they do have the weapons. And the only other possible party to have the gas may lack means and lacks reasonable motive.
So Syria and the Assad Regime Gassed people: So now what? (*continued in Part II)