United States is left with no good option concerning SyriaPosted on September 3, 2013 | by WSN Editorial Board
An ambivalent American public is weary of another armed conflict where both the strategic goals and scope of the intervention remain hazy, which is the current state of mind about the United States’ involvement in Syria. The failed 1993 humanitarian intervention in Somalia underscores this dilemma — yet memories of hesitation in Rwanda negate it. A recent NBC Poll demonstrates public hesitation. Of those canvassed, 58 percent stated that the use of chemical weapons crossed a red line. However, when asked whether U.S. military intervention would improve the situation, only a meager 27 percent believed that it would have any beneficial effect.
Despite this uncertainty, the United States and the global community cannot outlaw the use of chemical weapons and then stand inactive at the borders of sovereignty while these weapons are used against a civilian population. A number of independent journalists and nongovernmental agencies, such as Human Rights Watch, have presented overwhelming evidence that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people and is in breach of international law. The U.N. Security Council is still awaiting the results of chemical tests to officially confirm the Syrian government’s culpability and add more international credibility to American intervention.
There is little dispute that the Obama administration has mismanaged its response to the Syrian Civil War. The United States failed to intervene two years ago after announcing that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed a red line then stood idly by for a year. Then, the United States pushed for crucial, immediate military action, but then President Barack Obama left the vote up to Congress — after they return from recess — and Obama has yet to make a definitive case for U.S. intervention. He has depleted any good options that once existed. Without the United Kingdom, the United States must rely on strong international support from other origins, such as endorsements from members of the European Union, and participation from allies, France and Turkey, in a military coalition.
The complications surrounding Syria indicate that there is no good option left. There are valid concerns that a military strike would not deter the future use of chemical weapons but escalate violence in Syria and threaten stability in the Middle East. While these must be weighed heavily in the United States’ decision, the administration cannot deny the purported 100,000 people slaughtered by the Syrian government. The use of chemical weapons is a war crime, necessitating that the United States has a responsibility to protect Syrian civilians. The WSN Editorial Board urges Congress to vote yes on military action. The potential dangers of intervention are significant, but the human costs of inaction are far higher.
Editorial Board: Raquel Woodruff (Chair), Edward Radzivilovskiy (Co-chair), Peter Keffer (Co-Chair), Harry Brown and Nickhil Sethi.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 3 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.