Syria: The United States Must Practice Restraint

Kimberlee is a sophomore French studies major.
Kimberlee is a sophomore French studies major.

I am no historian, nor politician – but I do recognize when my government is left unlearned by history.

This week’s talks about the possibility of a U.S. military strike in Syria – an issue that has been ripped to shreds since the launch of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s August 21st chemical weapons attack against rebel troops in Damascus – leave me skeptical. The Obama administration failed to confirm whether to go forward with the strike: one that President Barack Obama himself believes will be brief, with little long-term implications. Instead, focus has shifted on waiting for Congress to approve of military interference in Syria. With no confirmed reports of chemical weapon usage coming out of the United Nations, and international support to back the U.S. quickly dwindling, I take comfort in knowing that 535 civil servants rest uneasy in their seats atop Capitol Hill trying to reach a consensus.

“Uneasy” is the key term here, since hesitation does not come without reasonable doubt.

Even if Congress gives the green light and new laws are created allowing the U.S. to launch missiles into Syria, this country will not be able to ease back into its rabbit hole and turn a blind eye to the problems in the Middle East. This issue is not a ‘get-in’ and ‘get-out’ process. Intervention will surely spark another war in the region with U.S. involvement. Furthermore, it may possibly extend into Iran, a close weapons ally for terrorist groups – and more importantly, with Russia and China, two world superpowers with strong influences over the U.N.

Moreover, the use of chemical weapons is nothing new in Syria. Since the 1970s, the al-Assad family has been using ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to spark fear amongst the Syrian people and force them into submission under its dictatorial regime.

What is new, however, is the tact with which the United States can handle the situation this time. President Obama’s statements on PBS earlier this week alluded to the Syrian government violating the 1925 Geneva Convention ban on chemical weapons as reason enough to dip our hands into another country’s civil war. In my opinion, this is not fair rationale, especially if he is looking to keep involvement short and sweet.

If I ever paid close attention in history class, I grasped that without careful reflection over previous political mishaps, history often does repeat itself. A cliché statement does not exist without underlying reason. Have we not learned anything from Afghanistan or Lebanon?

The U.S. looking weak on the world stage should not be a concern at this point. I have grown tired of my government acting as though it has something to prove. If we have not yet coaxed some deference out of our enemies, or garnered unbridled support from our allies, I fear we have nothing left on our side save for a washed-out American spirit – and that is a possibly more exigent problem.

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