U.S. should intervene in Syria, but not alone

It is no secret that the Syrian conflict has caused the international community to reach one its highest boiling points, especially since President Barack Obama recently announced that he would seek Congressional authorization to carry out a limited strike on Syria. Recent protests in Syria have been inspired by the populist uprisings in both Egypt and Tunisia against their respective oppressive governments in what has become known as the Arab Spring. In April 2011, Syrians took to the streets and began protesting against President Bashar al-Assad’s authoritarian regime. While Tunisian and Egyptian protestors were met with government resistance, it was nowhere near as brutal and inhumane as Syria’s response ordered by President Bashar al-Assad.

Peaceful protestors in Syria were met with government security forces that did not even hesitate to shoot at, kidnap and even rape innocent Syrians. Soon, the protestors, like any human beings who value their lives, began to organize and fight back. It has now escalated into a civil war with an organized rebellion coalition, but Assad’s forces have recently set the rebels back. There seems to be no end in sight.

The biggest reason why international attention has increased ten-fold is because chemical weapons, specifically sarin gas, have been thrown into the arena of war. Under current guidelines by the Chemical Weapons Convention, countries are not allowed to manufacture, stockpile or use chemical-based weaponry. If Syria has used these weapons, then it is violating an international treaty. This blatant disregard for a treaty that it agreed to has angered many countries in the international community. Chemical weapons have been banned dating back to World War I when the French began producing tear gas, so now countries like France, the U.S. and other Convention member countries believe Syria should be punished for their actions. But not all are willing to take action.

The next step after a problem is presented is to form a solution, but what to do? How do you respond when almost every option seems like it will set off an unwanted chain of events? If Syria is attacked, then international giants such as Russia and China will be threatened. This idea of hesitation before intervention is definitely something some students here support: “Historically, taking action like this has never worked, especially when we get involved in these Islamic countries,” says Krupa Patel, freshman in LAS. Krupa brings up an interesting point. When the United States got involved in Iraq it turned out to become a prolonged engagement with numerous lives lost.

However, if the United States and the international community do nothing, then more innocent lives will be lost to this deadly and illegal use of weapons. As each day passes, any action or inaction will inevitably cause or result in some negative outcome.

Clearly, we cannot leave a dictator in power that shoots his own citizens and uses weapons that are banned worldwide. The Assad regime must go, but the rebellion coalition is gaining more and more non-secular influence from terrorist groups. Secretary of State John Kerry believes that we must strike, and now Republican Senator John McCain has come forward to say that the House Republicans would be in the wrong if they voted against a U.S. strike against Syria.

Considering that this generation has grown up with prolonged engagements such as Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War in Afghanistan, this generation’s views of war and conflict are definitely soured. We’ve experienced firsthand what happens when the U.S. intervenes in countries without officially declaring war and without the full support of Americans and politicians.

However, even though I come from the same generation, I hold a fairly different opinion. I feel as though we should have intervened the moment Assad began attacking his own people. We should not have waited until this problem developed into a global conflict that allows thousands of innocent people to die everyday. Additionally, we have allowed the door to be open for jihadist groups to filter into the rebel coalition, which amplifies this revolution in terms of political and social views.

It is imperative that the U.S. does not act alone in Syria. We cannot always be seen as the police barging into countries and changing what we do not like. We must have support from countries like France and Germany so that there is an international collaboration acting against Syria.

We cannot let more innocent lives slip through our fingers as worldwide legislative bodies and politicians try to decide whether their actions will reflect positively if they vote yes or no. There must be action to resolve this now.

Max is a freshman in DGS. He can be reached at [email protected]