MARTY RUSSELL: Proposed deal helps everyone except Syrians

Well we can all rest easier on this another anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by terrorists on sites in the United States back in 2001 knowing that at least we have avoided, apparently, being drawn into yet another war as a result of those attacks.

The word Tuesday was that the Russians had apparently brokered a deal with Syria’s President Assad to turn over control of all his chemical and biological arsenal to international oversight and control. If such a deal comes to fruition, it would make moot any further discussion of possible U.S. military strikes on Syria letting Congress, the president and the rest of us off the hook.

And I’ll bet the Syrian people are happy about the news, too. They can now breathe easier – or at least breathe – knowing they won’t be inhaling poisonous gas courtesy of their own government. Of course, they can still be shot, blown to bits or bludgeoned to death by their own government but, hey, at least none of those so-called weapons of mass destruction.

There are, of course, still a lot of unanswered questions about the Russian proposal and Syria’s apparent eagerness to accept it. Who would be responsible for tracking down and securing all these chemical and biological stockpiles and how do we know we’ve got it all?

I can see Assad pleading his case now with the international inspectors.

“Ah, c’mon,” he’d argue, “you gotta let me keep at least a few canisters of mustard gas here in the palace just in case my mother-in-law overstays her welcome.”

Truth is, there’s really no way of knowing whether all of Assad’s chemical weapons can be found and secured and, if they’re not, no way to stop him from using them again.

He’s basically asking us to trust him. Come to think of it, so are the Russians, Syria’s closest allies.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say the Syrians and Russians are sincere and the international community is able to round up all of Assad’s chemical and biological weapons. What then? You can’t just leave them there. Even under armed guard they would be too much of a temptation for Assad to use them again so they would need to be removed from the country and taken to a secure place for storage.

I can see the gears turning right now in Jackson. We could store them right here in Mississippi, right next to our proposed nuclear waste site, the politicians are probably thinking. What could possibly go wrong?

While the details of the proposed deal with Syria are being worked out, most of the world is breathing a sigh of relief that most of us have been taken off the hot seat as to whether we are morally obligated to step in and put a halt to a crime against humanity.

Most of us, that is, except the Syrian people.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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