Warren Olney’s “To The Point” has provided extensive coverage of the escalating conflict in Syria, asking back in March, 2011, how the country might be affected by changes in the Middle East and keeping a close watch on the often tragic changes that did follow.
President Obama has asked the Congress to approve a plan to intervene directly in Syria, most likely with cruise missile strikes in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks against Syrian rebels.
Below, we’ve compiled an archive of key shows to provide a grounding in how the battle for Syria evolved and why it threatens to spill over into a greater war for control in the Middle East.
September 12, 2013: Sizing Up Syria’s Chemical Weapons Proposal
In Geneva, the US says it will test the seriousness of Russia’s plan to put Syria’s chemical arsenal under international control. In the meantime, we look at how difficult that task will be — even if Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad can be trusted to mean what they say. In the meantime, is the US arming Syrian rebels?
September 11, 2013: President Obama Wants to Give Peace a Chance
September 9, 2013: Congress Faces Big Issues: Syria, Debt Ceiling, Immigration
September 4, 2013: Strike on Syria may be about more than chemical weapons
"The reason that AIPAC and Israel both want the United States to stick to the red line and go to war in Syria is because they are afraid if the United States doesn’t, it’ll be impossible to get the US to got to war with Iran or to allow Israel to attack Iran over its nuclear developments."
— MJ Rosenberg, Huffington Post blogger and Special Correspondent for The Washington Spectator. Former senior staff member at AIPAC (now a critic of the organization)
September 3, 2013: Congress Takes Up Strikes on Syria
"For me the problem is this is unpredictable, even if we had a limited narrow scope and duration of this military strike, how do we know what’s going to happen after we shoot across the bow. This is really just to send a message, this is just so we can keep our credibility and our reputation and that’s not a good enough reason for me or my constituents on possibly dragging us into a civil war which has nothing to do with us. I’m still concerned with the retaliation after we strike and what does that mean long-term for our security." —Janice Hahn, Democratic Congresswoman for the 44th District in California.
August 30, 2013: Obama Administration Lays Groundwork for Action in Syria
August 29, 2013: Is Punitive Action against Syria Justified? Is It Legal?
"Once you’ve started down a military road there is pressure to continue if your initial steps are not effective and I’m very concerned that they would not be effective… The other thing we have to understand is the laws of unintended consequences. If we launch a limited strike, we don’t know what the other parties will do. We don’t know what Assad will do, we don’t know what Iran will do, we don’t’ know what Hezbollah will do, we don’t know what the opposition will do." —Ryan Crocker, Former Ambassador to Iraq, currently the Dean at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University
August 27, 2013: Will Military Strike on Syria Be Too Little, Too Late
August 23, 2013: Chemical Weapons, ‘Red Lines’ and US Involvement in Syria
July 17, 2013: Behind the News from Syria
June 17, 2013: Is Syria’s Civil War Going Global?
May 6, 2013: Israel Strikes Syria, Will the US Be Next?
April 24, 2013: Does Obama Have to Act in Syria?
March 28, 2013: Syria on the Sunni-Shia Fault Line
December 4, 2012: Syrian Political Landscape Shifts As Crisis Intensifies
"The immediate crisis we have in front of us is the Assad regimes demise and how that happens… there’s been so much blood letting and so much of the regime beyond Assad is involved in the brutal suppression of its people that the political settlement now is very difficult, and the softer landing we were hoping for is unlikely… There is not going to be one coherent opposition body with which anyone can negotiate. And I think that’s going to add to the challenge of governing Syria, of rebuilding, of elections, of all of these state-building issues and I think that the US, for very good reason, doesn’t want to get involved in. But if you don’t get involved in this situation in some way shape or form, your ability to shape the outcome becomes less and less, and I think we all share with our allies the short term goal of bringing Assad’s reign to an end. — Andrew Tabler, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Author of “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle With Assad’s Syria”
On the Assads: “They hadn’t reformed in decades.The system they were presiding over was so unbelievably corrupt, it couldn’t reform. The thing that sent me running out of the charity was being offered a bag of money, when I didn’t even know why I was being offered a bag of money. The system was so rotten… I think for [President Assad], it’s a life or death struggle. We have to draw a line somewhere, because I think that he is ruthless … I think it would be very difficult for President Obama to stand by in the face of a huge massacre or the use of [chemical weapons]. I know the administration is very concerned about that, and rightfully so.” —Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Assad’s Syria
February 15, 2012: Is It Time to Intervene in Syria?
"There’s more and more cases of people fleeing illegally. Of course it depends on the place, but we’re talking about cities where people basically feel surrounded. There are troops and armored vehicles circling their neighborhoods, or sometimes the whole town depending on how much of it they feel is opposition held…. In the case of a place like Homs, a city of one million, and is considered the heart of the uprising, they are focusing on certain neighborhoods, usually poorer neighborhoods that have a large Sunni population, which is the majority religious population in the country and has been the biggest supporter of the uprising… people say it’s so hard to get in and out that they are struggling to get food, so they are relying on whatever they’ve saved up at home and they’re talking about smuggling things like bread and water as being as difficult as smuggling as weapons. They have to go at night and can only bring in what they can carry." —Erika Solomon, Correspondent for Reuters based in Beirut
January 5, 2012: Syria’s Crackdown Continues
And if we’re not acting, what does that say? You know, if we’re just issuing another statement of condemnation or passing resolutions saying “wasn’t that terrible?”
You know, if people who, you know, decry international inaction in Rwanda and, you know, say how terrible it is that there are these human rights violations that take place around the world, then why aren’t we doing something about it?
And they always look to the United States. Why isn’t the United States doing something about this? The most powerful nation on Earth. Why are you allowing these terrible things to happen?
KCRW and To the Point will be covering the Presidential Inauguration on Monday, January 21.
The ceremony will begin at 11:30 am ET with President Obama taking the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol in DC, immediately followed by the inaugural address. Here’s a full schedule.
The Hill has the rundown: Then, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the JCCIC, will give welcoming remarks. Myrlie Evers-Williams will give the invocation. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir will sing. Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will administer the oath of office to Biden. James Taylor will perform. John Roberts, chief justice of the United States, will swear in Obama. Obama will give his inaugural address. Kelly Clarkson will sing. Richard Blanco will read a poem. There will be a benediction, and then Beyoncé will sing the National Anthem.”