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Why Syria Is Not A Clear-Cut Decision

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 naïve 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.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents an 2 elementary age children, 4 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

11 thoughts on “Why Syria Is Not A Clear-Cut Decision

      1. Only if you want to become truly depressed at the lack of unbiased, clear news in real life.

        It’s actually a really good show, but I see the “coverage” of events from a year or so ago and think to myself, “Why didn’t someone explain it THAT way? It makes so much sense and oh my God, we did what instead?”

  1. Very thoughtful article, Alex. A group I’m in discussed this for two solid hours last Saturday. One thing someone pointed out is that the U.S. used depleted uranium in Iraq and the cancer rate shot up. Why is it okay for US to do all the evil things we have done and nobody is punished? Why aren’t Cheney and Bush in jail? Remember, they can’t leave the USA or they might get tried for war crimes. How about we put pressure on countries around Syria to do something, non-military? How about we help the refugees? How about we all call or email or visit our Congresscritters and say NO WAR, but humanitarian aid?

    1. I think the US has lost much of it’s moral standings based on Guantanamo Bay prison alone. We’ve made terrible mistakes but I don’t know that humanitarian aid would help a country to stop using chemical weapons against its own people. Although I do wonder what intervention will exactly…
      It’s very complex and sad and it makes me long for a better media (since the pre-Iraq media was so misinformed I feel like I can’t trust them here or maybe ever again around pre-war reporting).

  2. We did have proof that Hussein was gassing the Kurds in northern Iraq. On this go round the U.K., Iran and Russia have intel saying it wasn’t Assad. The Rebels themselves have admitted that it was a “handling accident” on their part. Why is the president so eager to shoot? Is his anti-colonialism dogma driving him back any anti-government coalition? Can someone tell me why the U.S. is arming Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood all up and down the Arabian coast. I say we stay out of it. We’ve stayed out of Darfur and Somalia. Why Syria? Why now? Click my link for more info.

    http://luckypuppy.net/attack-syria-wait-a-minute/

  3. It hurts my heart so much seeing pictures of the many kids kiled by the chemical weapons. When I saw reports about what happened I thought, “of course we have to do something!” I do NOT think we are in any position to get into another war and do not want that, but part of me thinks going to bat for people in this situation will be a blessing later on no matter our situation. But hearing your side and information about how it’s NOT cut and dry on who released the weapons makes me stop and question it. It would be a pretty horrific but good way to get us involved if the rebels really wanted us to be. Also, I would get over the fact that we are in a sense helping Al Qaeda forces for this one. Kinda makes me want to open a coke and hold hands and sing. (I am not making light of the situation but have a crazy idealism with us working together.)

    1. I felt the same way you did at first and was shocked more people weren’t immediately on board. And I’m probably okay with joining up with anyone to stop it (although if you click the link about the American captured by the more radical Syrian rebel group then helped by a more moderate rebel group, you can see why it’s hard).
      I just wish we had less biased reports to make decisions on because I do believe the use of chemical weapons are reason enough to act someway – I just want it to be the right way.

  4. I feel like I don’t have enough information to form much of an opinion on all of this. Part of the reason is my own fault. I have been like an ostrich lately when it comes to the news. I keep waiting to read or see something that makes it easier for me to have a stronger point of view on Syria. I think we do need better news coverage and better reporting. I am as torn as you are. I am scared too. I don’t see this ending well. I wonder what comes next.

    1. Well, the situation is complicated and it’s hard to discern what is what sometimes but the links in the post are interesting although I found myself more conflicted. Perhaps we should never go to war (or bomb people) feeling complete “good” about it — “war is hell” as William Tecumseh Sherman says. It’s good to remember that no matter how justified it may be.

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