ArticleDownload Worksheet April 29th, 2013
Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons Could Be “Game-Changer”World
New allegations that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its people has forced President Barack Obama to reconsider whether or not to intervene militarily in the civil war that has already killed over 70,000 Syrians.
“The U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.
On Friday, President Barack Obama told reporters that the U.S. is working with the United Nations and countries in the region to quickly assess the situation. He said the “preliminary” intelligence reports left “varying degrees of confidence about the actual use.”
Determining whether or not the regime has used chemical weapons is important in planning a possible U.S. response. “I’ve been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues,” said the president. “To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations, that is going to be a game changer.”
Should the U.S. send troops to Syria?
While members of Congress agree that the U.S. must respond if Syria uses chemical weapons, there is no consensus about what action to take.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona supports arming the rebels and imposing a no-fly zone, but not sending in U.S. troops.
“The American people are weary. They don’t want boots on the ground. I don’t want boots on the ground,” McCain said during an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria.”
However, his colleague Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina says that sending in U.S. troops is necessary to secure chemical weapons supplies.
“If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action toward Syria, kind of not knowing what we’re going to do next, we’re going to start a war with Iran because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program,” Graham said on the CBS News program Face the Nation.
The White House has refused to speculate on its response until the intelligence has been confirmed, but a letter to Congress warned that “no option is off the table.”
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 27 percent of Americans would support intervening in Syria if the government in Damascus uses chemical weapons, while 44 percent would remain opposed.
What is sarin gas?
According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), modern chemical weapons first came into use during World War I. Chlorine, phosgene (a choking agent), mustard gas (which inflicts painful burns on the skin) and other chemicals killed over 100,000 people.
This led to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which banned the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Later, the 1993 UN Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) outlawed the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. However, Syria is one of eight nations who have not signed the treaty.
The chemical that Syria is accused of using is sarin gas. Sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid known as a “nerve agent” that can shut down the body’s nervous system when inhaled in gas form or absorbed through the skin.
In 1988, the Iraqi government used sarin gas and other chemical weapons on the city of Halabja in Northern Iraq, killing an estimated 5,000 people. Sarin was used again in 1995 when a Japanese cult released the gas into the Tokyo subway, killing 13 people and injuring a thousand others.
— Compiled by Allison McCartney for NewsHour Extra
More Extra Articles on Syria
|Syrian Refugees Face Harsh Conditions||Syrian Fighting Spills Over into Bordering States||Civil War in Syria Raises Questions on When to Intervene|
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Study guide: How separating children from parents became U.S. government policy
On Monday, the Trump Administration said they would not apologize over its “zero tolerance” policy separating families at the southern U.S. border. Continue readingDemocratsDonald Trumpfamiliesfamily separationGeographyGovernment & CivicsHealthhealth and human serviceshomeland securityICEimmigrantsimmigrationimmigration policyJeff Sessionskirstjen nielsonRepublicansSocial IssuesSocial StudiesTexasU.S. Border Patrolundocumented immigrants
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump meet face-to-face
President Donald Trump announced plans on Monday morning to depart early from his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, according to White House officials, stating that nuclear talks with North Korea have moved “more quickly than expected.” Continue readingDonald TrumpGovernment & CivicshistoryKim Jong UnKoreaKorean WarMedia LiteracyNorth Koreanuclear weaponsSocial StudiesTrump-Kim summit
“RBG” film traces Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s continuing fight for equality
“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks,” states Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a new documentary about her life. Continue readingdaily news storydocumentarygenderGovernment & Civicsjudicial branchlesson planMedia LiteracyNewsHour BookshelfPBSRBGRuth Bader Ginsburgsexismsexual discriminationSocial StudiesSupreme Court
Connection Challenge: Students leave social comfort zones to build stronger, safer communities
Inspired by Parkland students, schools across the U.S. participated in the Connection Challenge as a way to step out of their comfort zones and connect with other young people at school who they wouldn’t normally interact with. Continue readingactivismadvisoryApril 20th WalkoutELAempathyFlorida shootingGovernment & Civicsgun violenceGunshomeroomNational School Walkoutparklandschool communityschool shootingssnapchatSocial IssuesSocial StudiesSRLstudent protestsstudent reporting labswalkout
Santa Fe study guide: Have school shootings become part of American culture?
Learn about the lives of the eight students and two teachers killed in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday, May 18th. Continue reading#NeverAgainAssociated PressBullyingcivics & governmentDmitrios Pagourtzisgendergirlsgun controlgun reformmass shootingsMedia Literacynews literacyparklandSanta Feschool shootingsSocial IssuesSocial Studies