As the US continues to prepare for military action against Syria, many are questioning whether missile strikes are the correct response to the supposed chemical attacks used by the Syrian government against rebel forces. Although chemical weapons use is a violation of international law, it’s not enough reason to use military action against any of the forces within Syria.
First, the safety of the United States, militarily and economically, will be threatened by a military intervention in Syria. The United States is finally wrapping up two wars that have been going on for more than a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. These wars together cost the US $4 to $6 trillion dollars and thousands of lives. Think how much $4-6 trillion could save the US back home, when it comes to the crushing debt our nation faces as our schools, infrastructure, and health care systems deteriorate. The last thing the United States needs is involvement in another Middle Eastern conflict that could bury us deeper in debt and put our soldiers at risk.
Second, Syria offers no immediate threat to the United States. This Syrian civil war is a conflict between the Syrian government and the rebel forces, and that is who it should remain between. Plus, with Russian backing of the Syrian government, this intervention is slowly turning into a recreation of a Cold War conflict. Our best claim for military action is for the defense Israel, but our attacks could antagonize a far more powerful Israeli enemy, Iran.
Third, no matter who wins this civil war, the United States loses. The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad is not friendly to the United States or key allies in the region. He is a ruthless dictator who is willing to attack his own people to remain in power, and he has support from Iran and Hezbollah. Unfortunately, the other option is not much better. The Syrian rebel forces have become extremely jihadist in the past two years; some groups even have ties to Al-Qaeda. The rebels will not be friendly towards the United States or Israel, and could struggle to form a new government if rebel groups fight amongst themselves after Assad. If the country falls apart, it could become our responsibility to rebuild a nation that fell apart after we helped overthrow a ruthless dictator. Sound familiar?
Syria also offers a domestic political problem: presidential power. President Obama has used it before to declare military actions against Libya, and will continue his abuse to unilaterally order military strikes in Syria. He is ignoring the UN chemical weapons team and the American people, since only 9% of Americans think the Obama administration should intervene militarily in Syria. Finally, he is refusing to go through a Congressional vote for military action, going against our system of checks and balances. Many compare this military action to the beginnings of the Iraq War, but this military action goes beyond the presidential abuse of power George W. Bush used in 2003. At least Bush had the support of both the American people (62% supported invasion according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll in March 2003) and Congress. Instead, Obama stands alone with his executive branch, demanding military action when it is unjustified and unwanted by the American people.
Many supporters of this military action into Syria claim that US intervention is needed now that it has become a violation of human rights with the use of chemical weapons. But if these supporters claim that the United States must intervene during every human rights violations, they must not be following how many the United States decided to ignore. Remember Rwanda, Darfur, or countless other tragedies in which the US did not intervene? And even in this Syrian civil war, why do we start our military intervention now, after over 100,000 Syrians have died, not to mention the over 2 million people who have fled the country? It does not matter if they were killed with guns, bombs, or chemical weapons. What matters is that the United States sat back and did nothing for two years while Syrians were killed or forced to flee their country.
As time ticks down until President Obama announces military action against another Middle Eastern country, every American citizen should be asking their president why this intervention is necessary. In a time where we can’t pay our bills, our education standards are falling behind, and our economy struggles to stay afloat, a military intervention into Syria is the last thing we need.