My good friend and colleague Dion Pierre wrote previously about the moral case for intervening in Syria in “Politics of war: why we must act on Syria.” It is not to impugn his intentions that I write, but to show that historically, the best of intentions have brought down America’s economy and world standing. In the face of a brutally horrific landscape developing in Syria, cries are intensifying for the United States to act militarily in the Middle East. The cries ring through the fading remnants of the neoconservative strains in America and through an administration grasping onto any sense of power or relevance it can manage in the Middle East.
But throughout America and many other corners of the world, there is almost unanimous disapproval of the war hawks ready to launch our country into another entrenched conflict in the Middle East. American intervention in Syria is one of those increasingly rare phenomena that is less popular than Congress.
As a member of Hofstra Students for Liberty, it is here that I split from my friends in the Republican Party. It is my belief that protecting America’s interests takes top priority, and this should be the mentality throughout our university. It’s easy to be apathetic toward something happening on the other side of the world, even if it’s a humanitarian tragedy. Intervention in Syria is harder to ignore, as it would inevitably come back to haunt us.
It is naïve to believe that radical insurgents will want no retribution for another round of American imperialism. When that happens, it will be difficult for anyone on this campus to ignore the consequences. By standing idle, we allow the elitists in the administration to pull all the strings. We need to make our voices heard, put politics aside, and question any authority that will send our capital and countrymen to fight when America is not in any danger.
The position of the Obama administration is understandable. As Assad crosses line after fictitious red line, Obama is losing whatever remaining credibility he has as a competent Commander in Chief. The candidate who promised to end needless foreign entanglements now risks dragging America into another lengthy and costly war. The president can put his own credibility on the line, but he does not have a free pass to put that of America there with it.
The unfortunate truth is that there are no easy answers here. It’d be nice to carpet bomb the Assad regime into the dust, but that ignores the historical consequences of America sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
There is no denying the horrors that are being committed in Syria, but there is a vital factor that separates this from the horrors committed by Germany in WWII. If we aid the rebels, we risk further destabilization of an already delicate area, and we could inadvertently put into power into the hands of those who attacked us on September 11, 2001.
If we topple Assad, is it more or less likely that his chemical weapons would end up in the hand of al-Qaeda cells known to operate within the rebellion? It is much more probable that terrorists would then gain footholds in the region and pose a greater threat not only to the U.S., but also to our ally, Israel.
Opposing Syrian intervention isn’t falling back to an age of weakness, but rather, moving forward to a foreign policy imbedded in the Constitution and our founding principles. It is misguided to say that our values are somehow set in wars led by all-powerful executives. Our nation was founded as a constitutional republic where the representatives of the people would only send us to war when we faced an imminent threat.
Just because a situation is horrible does not qualify it as an imminent threat worthy of putting America’s blood and treasure on the line for several years to come. Tell the families of the dead the merits of a limited campaign with no boots on the ground. Tell them that our actions cannot be defined as war and that death by our bombs is preferable to death by Assad’s. Tacking on the word “democracy” at the end of a sentence does not create a solution. This isn’t a plea to turn a blind eye. This is a plea to use both eyes to see the disadvantages of a new crusade for the American empire.
BRETT LINLEY HOFSTRA STUDENTS FOR LIBERTY PRESIDENT