Don Roach: Are You Ready to Kill Syrians?
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
It’s not often that David Cicilline and I find ourselves on the same side on an issue, but our President, Barack Obama, finally has taken a position that is bringing us together.
Unless you haven’t heard, President Obama is calling for strikes against the Syrian government which is embroiled in a Civil War that has taken the lives of 100,000 people in the last two years.
The reason for the strikes now is due to the fact that the Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons – against the Geneva Protocol of 1925 – against its own people. Syria signed the Geneva Protocol in 1968 and thus if it is true that the government ordered the use of chemical weapons they would run afoul of this stipulation.
Syria has crossed humanity’s red line
Yesterday, Secretary of State, John Kerry, argued that this crossed “humanity’s red line” within the conflict and that the world, specifically the US, needed to act. In his words:
[S]ome have tried to suggest that the debate we're having today is about President Obama's red line […] This debate is about the world's red line. It's about humanity's red line. And it's a red line that anyone with a conscience ought to draw.
Essentially, the world cannot sit idly by while Syria gases its people, it’s inhumane, cruel, and definitely goes against international law. Unfortunately, not everyone is convinced by this argument and our representative, David Cicilline, recently said, “This will be a very heavy burden for me to persuade me that it is in the national security interests of the U.S. to engage in this military strike.”
The key words there are “national security interests”. How does Syria using chemical weapons against its own people – allegedly – impact the national security interests of the United States? Is Syria threatening to use these chemical weapons against the United States? Not that I’ve read and I’m not sure they have the capability to launch a missile that could strike us. Has Syria threatened to use chemical weapons against our allies, Turkey and/or Israel? No on that front but it isn’t stopping Israel from showing that it has the capability to defend itself if such an attack occurred.
How are our national interests served in striking Syria?
So we have to ask ourselves a few questions:
1. Do we believe that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people? Let’s assume we answer this in the affirmative.
2. Does America, and the world, have a duty to respond to this attack?
3. If we answer yes to number #2 is the use of chemical weapons our “red line” in the sand and will we use this standard going forward?
4. What are the repercussions if we strike at Syria? Does this cause World War III?
To summarize my answer to these questions can only be said like this: I agree with Cicilline (you’ll never see this sentence again). As much as I believe that it is a vile act to use chemical weapons in warfare, I believe that we cannot go into a situation (again) where we are the Lone Rangers fighting ‘evil’ when we see fit. When we see fit is usually characterized by a nation unable to hit us back.
We need multi-national support to strike at Syria
More than anything, we do not have the support of our strongest ally, Great Britain, nor the support of the Security Council of the United Nations. No, that hasn’t stopped us before (see: Iraq, Kosovo) but Obama is not trying to be the second coming of Dubya is he? I don’t think so, but should the US go it alone, he’s headed towards that territory.
I believe the world deplores the use of chemical weapons and I also believe that if a country uses such weapons the world would be willing to strike at said government. The problem is the Syrian government is stating that they didn’t do it, the UN squad sent in to evaluate the situation hasn’t made a determination, and Russia/China don’t believe the US should get involved at this juncture.
To me, I don’t see the usefulness in striking at Syria and how it benefits the US. I just don’t. I get the humanitarian aspect, but if you can’t convince the UK and some of our other allies on this point, are they just scared, heartless, or do they know something that the rest of us armchair diplomats don’t know?
This is an issue that lends itself to opinions all over the political spectrum. It unites strange bedfellows such as myself and Cicilline. But I’ll end this piece the way it began, are you ready to kill Syrians?
If you are support Obama, if not…contact your Congressman.
Don Roach does not believe the US is the world’s policeman. Don can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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