SYRIA and The Red Line: Maybe We’re Too Late
I wish I could explain what we could do to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but I simply can’t. It’s part that I am not an expert in Middle Eastern conflicts, and part that wars are messy and no one can really know what option is best.
RELATED: Imminent War: Are we Headed to Syria
The war in Syria is complicated. It involves two opposing sides that we simplistically call the government forces and the rebels, but which in reality are dozens of ethnic, religious, and political minorities. Syria has been under an authoritarian regime Since Hafez Assad took over in a coup in 1970, followed by his son Bashar Al-Assad in 2000. Both father and son suppressed opposition. Syria seemed to be in a peaceful state for the last 40 years, but suppression of one’s voice can seem like peace on the surface, but it’s really contained exasperation. They were long overdue for a revolution, and we have to respect that. The only truth we know about Syria is that people are dying. Over 100,000 people have died in the last two years – one third of them were civilians. Neighboring countries have taken in over 2 million refugees, and 4.25 million people have been displaced within the country. That is over 6 million people uprooted from their homes and suffering.
On Saturday President Obama stated in a press conference from the White House that he has decided to strike Syria over the use of chemical weapons. A United States report indicates that government forces led by the Bashar Al-Assad regime are responsible for the attacks. A Minnesota news site called Mint Press News claims that they received reports that the rebel forces unleashed the chemical attack on civilians. United Nations inspectors have been investigating the use of chemical warfare but will need up to 3 weeks for a definitive answer. It’s too soon to know for sure. But one thing we do know, chemical weapons are dangerous and cruel, and the consequence of doing nothing is tantamount to complicity.
RELATED: It’s the Court of Law, Not Religion
The United States has used chemical warfare in the past (see Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and the consequences are still felt today. To simply put it, all wars are inhumane, but a bullet to the brain would seem merciful compared to the agonizing death that comes from chemicals that burn the skin and continue to deteriorate your body years later, or releasing Sarin nerve gas, which inhibits the nervous system causing one to die from asphyxiation. So trust me, I get it, we need to do something. But what?
President Obama says he’s “confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable. We are prepared to strike whenever we choose. It will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. I’m prepared to give that order.”
My question is, what will this strike look like? Will we be sending missiles from ships or will Marines be descending from helicopters? It’s easy for us to debate what is the best outcome, but Syrians are the ones that will have to deal with the consequences. I am not confident we have enough answers to truly understand the magnitude of this strike.
Could peacekeeping intervention be the answer?
United Nations intervention isn’t always perfect. In fact, I can name the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica as failures. But I can also name interventions in Kosovo, Bosnia, and most recently Libya. They worked! Peacekeeping is one way to do something to help Syrians without actually killing more people and intensifying the fight. However, before that can happen we need a ceasefire and willingness for both sides to stop fighting, which seems highly unlikely at the moment.
Should the United States just pick a side?
Perhaps. Sometimes one just has to pick the better of two evils and tread carefully to avoid getting into murkier waters. We have a lot of evidence that the Assad regime has a tight grasp on power. They’ve been in power since the 1970s and their influence spread wider the longer they stood in power, it’s not easy for them to let that all go. They have become terrorists. But just as the Assads refuse to let go of their power, the rebels have become more than just the opposition. They have been infiltrated by groups such as Al Qaeda and in the past two years have become more radicalized.
Where we failed was by not intervening soon enough. We ignored their outcries and the thousands of people that were massacred during the early stages of the revolution. Now all sides have had two years to devastate each other and deepen the pain that war causes. Now there is not just anger, there is rage and that the people caught in-between.
I’m often told that I am too sentimental and “issues” focused. That I need to be more in tune with the real world and comprehend that war is sometimes necessary — and that may be true. But I know this to be true; people die too often because we can’t decide what to do. If we would intervene when people need us, and not just when it’s politically convenient we would be a much better world.
Powered by Facebook Comments