WEEKLY NEWS: Don’t assume the worst has passed; act now against Syria

Night falls on a Syrian-rebel controlled area on Sa’ar street. An apartment is illuminated by fire used by one family to keep them warm beside destroyed buildings, among those the Dar Al-Shifa hospital, after airstrikes targeted the area last week, in Aleppo, on November 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
Photo uploaded to Flickr by FreedomHouse. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

On Saturday, President Obama announced that he fully supports an attack on Syria in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons to kill thousands of rebels.

The president then went on to say that he will wait for the approval of Congress before launching such an attack.

Despite these recent decisions the involvement of the American military in Syria is still in question. According to the New York Times article “Slowing March to Military Action, Obama Seeks Syria Vote in Congress,” Congress seems unlikely to support a limited air strike on Syria because it is either too extreme or too mild.

I, on the other hand, have come to the conclusion that such a maneuver is necessary for many reasons.

First, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons is directly in violation of international law. That no one seems willing to punish those who breach such an obvious tenet of human dignity is appalling.

The New York Times article “Support Slipping, U.S. Defends Plan for Syria Attack,” points out that France is the only country that seems committed to support militaristic action in Syria. Even the Parliament in Great Britain has voted not to act.

But should any country, no matter its precarious placement in the world, really be allowed to get away with murdering thousands of its citizens with a form of weapon that has been deemed illegal by 98 percent of the world’s countries?

During Hitler’s rise before World War II, the United States, along with other countries, could have done something to halt, or at least assuage, the escalation of  violence. But, at the time, no one realized that things could get worse. They assumed that the worst had already passed.

Perhaps Syria is in a similar situation. If Syria is comparable to Germany during World War II, then we should have acted earlier, before things got so out of hand. We should have learned from the past and realized that, even though conditions were becoming ever more daunting, they could continue to get worse.

However, we didn’t act and now we are scrambling to figure out how to react to an atrocity that might have been avoided. That is the very reason that we should act now.

If nothing is done, then who’s to say that another chemical weapon attack won’t be carried out in a month?

America is supposed to be a place where ideals become reality and, no matter how realistic that dream is, our actions should reflect it. I can confidently say that I don’t think the use of chemical weapons is an ideal even if they have become a reality.

Nonetheless, there are risks involved with launching an air strike against Syria, even if it wouldn’t involve American soldiers on land, that cannot be ignored.

There is always the possibility of retaliation from Syria or its allies. The United States has been involved in wars for years now, and most Americans are understandably wary of possibly entering another one, especially one that has already claimed so many lives.

But does wartime weariness really warrant looking the other way? I have tried to think of arguments on both sides of the debate. Every time that I came up with a point for remaining detached from the Syrian civil war, I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

The image of children contorted in spasms while in their beds refuses to leave my mind. That image is the primary reason that I can’t help but back President Obama’s position.

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