I feel conflicted about whether we should intervene in Syria.
On the one hand, the ease at which people dismiss the use of chemical weapons and what it means for a government to turn these on its own people, surprises me. We, as a country and as a world, cannot turn our backs on atrocities such as these. In the past, when we have taken stands where we have isolated ourselves from the world because we deem our problems more important than others, we have allowed for terrible events to unfold and often are eventually drawn into longer and more horrible conflicts (think: World War II). While I would never suggest we go back to pre-emptive strikes, swinging the pendulum back to appeasement and isolationism is not an answer either.
This is not like Iraq in that we are not attacking based on the idea that Syria may have chemical weapons, but on their illegal use of chemical weapons. How can the world stand by and allow poisonous gas to be a weapon of choice? And if one country can treat its citizens with such horrific disregard, what stops others? I’m not a fan of war or even war-like intervention, but I also cannot abide by leaving people defenseless either.
However, the details around the chemical weapon attack must be strong and not just supported by the US and Britain. As of now, the reports around are still confusing. Was it the Syrian National army? Was it the rebels (Free Syrian Army)? Was it an accident? I don’t want this military intervention to be some fact-finding mission of “oops we were wrong but look we helped the Syrian rebels.” Because if we wanted to help the rebels, we should have months and months ago before they became more fractured and seem to depend more upon radical elements because no one else came to their aid.
Of course, that is another problem. Now there are both moderate and radical rebels fighting together and with each other in the Syrian civil war. Do we fight with those who hate us? Is the greater good to protect the people from a terrible weapon even if it means groups aligned with Al Qaeda would also get ahead?
I also think it’s naÃ¯ve of the US to believe we could swoop in, hit a few targets to let President Bashar al-Assad know not to use chemical weapons again, and go back to America. The Syrian regime has many allies, especially Russia, whose government is powerful today and not friendly with America. I worry that we, the US and Russia, will use Syria to work out our difference like we did in many countries during the Cold War.
The US and those who hold with the zero tolerance ban on chemical weapons are in a difficult situation. It seems like there are no good answers, but sometimes the right thing to do isn’t clear and pretty and easy to see. I hope we get more information from the United Nations on the chemical weapons and more reporters on the ground. And I want these reporters to do their job — not feed us the media frenzy like they did before we went to war with Iraq over non-existent WMDs. We desperately need a media to help us understand the conflict and all its gray areas so we can see through the politicizing of Syria and do what is right.