Thanks to President Obama’s somewhat surprising decision to consult Congress before any attack is waged on Syria, the United States of America is now in the throes of a vigorous debate. Here is my contribution to that debate.
But first this is from the President’s own remarks on Syria, full text via the Washington Post…
“Let me say this to the American people: I know well that we are weary of war. We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military. In that part of the world, there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”
And therein lies the question that Americans have to ask themselves… Is Syria really “someone else’s war”?
It’s a loaded question, but let’s break it down into sections for a moment. Syria is a country that is not in or near the United States. We do not share a physical border of any kind. They are a sovereign nation with their own leaders, and their own issues. Just like the United States in our Civil War, other nations mostly stayed out of our conflict, despite the fact that over 600,000 people died in the American Civil War. It was a tragedy of epic proportions, but other nations chose NOT to intervene. Were this war happening in a nation like Canada or Mexico, it would be another matter entirelyw, because what happens in those nations could quickly spill over into ours. This isn’t the case with Syria, and it never will be.
Which leads to the next issue… Syria’s war does not pose an imminent threat to the United States. The last time we had an attack on our shores was 9/11. There’s been no coordinated effort by Syria to attack us… NONE.
This is not to say that the US doesn’t care about Syria or its people. Everyone is horrified by the murders being committed there, whether by use of chemical weapons or not. But now that other nations are pretty sure that those weapons were used, is it OUR responsibility to do something about it if the US is not under an imminent threat?
So the next issue… If the US isn’t under imminent threat, then who is? Nations like Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey… all US allies, and all staying out of Syria’s war. If anyone has a reason to act against Assad’s use of chemical warfare, it would be these nations. But they’ve chosen to do nothing. In fact, the entire Arab League has been mum on Obama’s plan for a punitive attack. This is a critical difference between now and 2011… When the President chose to use US forces to aid Libyan rebels and eventually overthrow Qaddafi, the Middle East nations of Jordan, Qutar and Turkey were important players in that incident. If the nations most affected by Syria’s actions are not willing to act or ask for help, why should the US bear this burden alone? We cannot and should not fight wars that no one is asking us to.
What the President should do (and what I sincerely hope he is trying to do) is work with Syria’s neighbor nations to make them understand why chemical warfare is unacceptable. If we fire weapons into Syria without any substantial support from other nations, we are inviting ourselves to war. We’re also inviting them to attack us. It’s ironic how the Obama administration phrases their plan for Syria as “targeted and limited”. Given that the 9/11 attack didn’t involve ground troops, and occurred all within the span of a few short hours, one could argue it was very “targeted and limited” as well. Funny how a few hours can change the course of American history. Are we blind and deaf enough to think an attack on Syria would affect them any differently??
Americans need to stop this nonsense of trying to police the world. With all of the issues that we have internally, there is plenty to do in this nation other than meddle in someone else’s war. Sorry Team America… It’s time to retire.