How many of you had the opportunity to listen in on the emergency meeting of the security counsel called by Russia on Saturday? For those of you who missed it, I will include it at the end of this post; Nikki Haley gave a speech that made me want to stand up and start chanting USA! The situation in Syria is a hot mess and much of it falls on the shoulders of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. There are many arguments for acting when a tyrannical regime commits the kind of atrocities we see Assad responsible for, and there are just as many arguments for staying out of another country’s civil war.
Let’s start with a bit of history on the civil war in Syria. It all began with demonstrations in the city of Daraa after Assad’s security forces detained a group of boys accused of spray-painting anti-government graffiti on their school walls. Security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing four. This show of force backfired on Assad and the protests not only continued, they spread. The deadly responses by Assad’s security forces prompted then President Obama to call for Assad to step down and ordered the assets of the Syrian government within the United States to be frozen. Obama’s infamous and empty threat of his red line with regard to the use of chemical weapons came about 14 months later. During the following year there were at least 2 sarin gas attacks by Assad’s regime. Neither the Obama administration nor the UN security counsel acted beyond using their words to condemn the attacks. Putin became involved in the conflict fighting against the Syrian rebels, and assured the UN that Russia would guarantee the disposal of ALL chemical weapons in Syria. The chemical attacks continued. As the UN security counsel sought to respond to Assad’s attacks, Russia vetoed each and every measure. This led the coalition made up of France, The U.K. and The United States taking action.
The U.S. has been burned in years past and most of us are war weary. Too many in this country have been touched by loss as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are of the opinion that we should not spend anymore lives fighting a war that cannot be won. After all, the conflicts in the Middle East are based in ideology dating back, at least, to the 9th century B.C. Yet the question remains, do we not have a moral obligation to act when innocent civilians, children even, are being mercilessly exterminated by a tyrant? On the one hand it seems this should not be a difficult question to answer, yet the argument that we cannot police the world remains. The measured and specific response undertaken by the U.S. and our allies appears to be one that falls in line with both trains of thought. No U.S. troops were committed, no plans for any extended involvement in the Syrian conflict are a part of the response, yet a crippling blow was made on Assad’s ability to launch further chemical attacks on innocent civilians.
This is a truly difficult issue, and quite frankly both sides offer valid and reasonable arguments for either acting or not acting. It is a little hypocritical to espouse strong beliefs for the autonomy of the states within the U.S., then act in a manner that disregards the autonomy of sovereign nations. Can you imaging the outrage if another nation was attempting to impose their will on America? Do you remember the soldier, and this was about 24 years ago, that caused such a ruccus when he refused to wear the U.N. patch on his U.S. military uniform? Most of us supported his assertions that he signed up to defend the United States, not to take orders from The United Nations. Nevertheless, we must concede that we do live in a global economy and that with great power comes great responsibility. It seems the Trump administration and our allies did a great job of walking that line between being responsible citizens of the world and not imposing our own system of beliefs upon another sovereign nation.