Saturday, September 7, 2013
Syria. Heart-wrenching choices.
Many Americans are reluctant to become involved militarily in yet another war in the Middle East. The high cost and ongoing killing in Iraq and Afghanistan give them pause. If we join any of the splintered rebel groups in Syria, where will this lead the U.S.?
Many thousands have died; many millions have had to flee the devastation in Syria. Now we learn that “mothers and children” have been gassed. (Don’t the grandpas, fathers and teenagers count?)
We don’t have proof positive as to who is responsible for the gassing or why it was done, but assuming we get it and it is Syria’s President Assad, if we retaliate with missiles, who will be blamed? There will be more deaths, more destruction just from the missiles, not to mention any retaliatory strikes against us.
Will we be drawn into the war ever more deeply? Will our bombing Syria protect civilians or solve the humanitarian crisis? But do we care? Is nothing to be done?
After World War II, the Nuremberg Trials in the World Court brought to justice for all the world to see, those with the power to order and carry out the tragic killings by the Nazis. Bombing Syria, even in a hoped-for, limited scenario, still would leave in place those with the authority to order more killings, even perhaps more gassing. It would do nothing to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria and in the refugee camps outside its border.
These are difficult times, with policy choices that require very careful thought.
But wouldn’t it make sense to do all we can to alleviate suffering, rather than to cause more of it, and to lead an international effort to bring to justice those with the power to authorize such suffering?