Point/Counterpoint: Student debate about Syria

[one_half last=”no”]Yesterday, Congress reconvened after a summer break full of classified information leaks and war drumming. Their first issue on the table: Going to war with Syria.

For the sake of the entire world, their best choice is to stay out of this catastrophic conflict and hope Obama doesn’t choose to strong arm his way in despite their decision. The president argues, we must go in to show countries around the world we stand for upholding the international rule of law to never allow the use of chemical weapons. That we must show we are the great force in the world to uphold such law and are capable to act upon it.

This is a case of pride for our country, and Obama is choosing to make that more important than the consequences we will be responsible for. Is it worth setting an entire region ablaze in sectarian violence because we have to uphold this ideal of American exceptionalism? I think we need to come to understand our place in the world and realize there is only so much we are capable of. We are choosing pride over humility at the disastrous cost our involvement will set upon hundreds of millions of people, including ourselves.

Plenty of people in Congress feel the same way. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif. said, “For the president to say that this is just a very quick thing and we’re out of there, that’s how long wars start”. The sentiment is bipartisan as well. Rep. Mike McCaul, a Texas Republican and chair of the Homeland Security Committee argues, “Lobbing a few Tomahawk missiles will not restore our credibility overseas”.

The most moral decision we could make as a country is come to an understanding that we have no place in this situation to make it any better. Syria and the Middle East as a whole have not become any more stable with an empire dabbling in its affairs through violence. So let’s exercise some humility, Mr. President. It’s a greater show of character for our country, and we won’t have to deal with another legacy of blood on our hands.

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[one_half last=”yes”]

You may not know much about Syria, its current struggle, or even where it lies on a map. Chances are high, though, that in the past few months, you have heard nothing but Syria in the news. The Syrian Civil War, lasting over two years, has resulted in the death of over 100,000 and the displacement of over two million Syrian citizens.

Most recently, however, the news has been focused on President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against rebel insurgents in the town of Aleppo.
These attacks, which resulted in the death of over one thousand citizens, have spurred worldwide discussion, prompting politicians, newscasters, and ordinary citizens to offer their two cents about what role the United States should play in the conflict.

One dominant view is to press forward with a limited “no boots on the ground” intervention, while another is to stay out and avoid another potential protracted entanglement in the Middle East. This latter opinion carries a great deal of merit, especially for a war weary country that has spent over a decade fighting two separate wars in the region.

However, when a dictator cowardly slaughters thousands of his own citizens with chemical weapons, the United States must not stand on the sideline.
I argue that the United States must intervene in the Syrian Civil War not to topple a government and replace it with a democratic ally, but to send a message that humanitarian atrocities cannot be tolerated.

The United States is the richest, strongest, and most influential actor in the world, but too many times in its history has it turned a blind eye to humanitarian violations across the globe. By using its vast resources, the U.S. is in a position to set a new precedent for the world.

With no clear victory in sight, this decision is not an easy one to make. Humanitarian intervention on the proposed scale will not end the war, but a decisive and effective strike against strategic government sights will loosen the tight death grip President Assad has on his people.

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