Saturday, September 7, 2013

Should We Bomb Syria?

As I’ve mentioned before, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, life is precious. That’s why it is so heartbreaking to see the carnage taking place in Syria. What’s sad is that Syria’s neighbors, fellow Muslims, are doing nothing to stop it. Of course it’s easy to justify doing nothing by claiming it is an internal matter, a civil war, and nobody has a right to interfere in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs. However, what’s happened in Syria is also a crime against humanity and a humanitarian disaster.

The question becomes, do other countries have the right or duty to stop the killing of innocent civilians?

Looking first at Syria’s Muslim neighbors, I believe they should intervene using the following justifications:

(1) The raging civil war is causing a risk to each country’s security and threatens the stability of the region. Neighbors are being affected by the large influx of refugees into their countries. It is not just a Syrian “internal affair.”

(2) Large numbers of innocent civilians – their fellow Muslims – are being brutally murdered by an out-of-control dictator.

(3) The use of chemical weapons violates international law, and begs the question: “If he’s using them on his own people, might he someday use them on us?”

So for those reasons I believe the Arab League has the right, and even the duty, to intervene and neutralize Assad’s military and bring him down.

What about other countries? I believe that the United Nations should pass a resolution authorizing a coalition to bomb Assad’s military installations, with the intent of neutralizing his military and ultimately taking him down. The UN should establish and enforce a no fly zone over the whole country.

If the UN doesn’t act, and it won’t, then NATO should. I don’t believe the US has the right to bomb Syria without some sort of international approval. Anything the US does must be done only as a part of a multinational coalition. If the US acts alone, I believe there are significant risks:

(1) We could get sucked into a broader war on the ground. We don’t want another Iraq or Afghanistan.

(2) Syria’s friends, such as Iran and Russia, may supply Assad with more advanced weaponry to use against us, causing US casualties.

(3) Syria’s friends might retaliate against us in some other way, and not necessarily military action directed against us. For example, Iran might attack Israel with missiles, and who knows how North Korea may take advantage of the situation?

(4) While the US would be bombing Syria for humanitarian reasons (which sounds like an oxymoron), many Arabs and other Muslims would view it as “Crusaders” killing Muslims and interfering in a Muslim country. While many Muslims probably couldn’t hate us any more than they already do, bombing might provide Al Qaida with a propaganda and recruiting bonanza.

Furthermore, any military action, whether by the UN, NATO, the US, or even the Arab League, could further destabilize the region and –worst case – unleash Armageddon. And of course, there’s always the oil supply to worry about.

So even if what Assad is doing is a crime against humanity, I don’t think the US has the right or the duty to intervene. Governments should always act in the best interests of their own country, and with all the risks, I don’t believe bombing Syria is in our best interests. While Assad’s use of chemical weapons and his killing of over 100,000 of his own people is appalling, it is not a direct threat to US safety and security. The US should not get involved, but pray for the people of Syria (as well as Egypt and other countries in turmoil). (This was sent to my Congressman and our two NY Senators)

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