Obama administration needs to carefully rethink Syria approach

Obama administration needs to carefully rethink Syria approach

Congress will soon vote on the authorization of military force against Syria, and I’m against the President on this one.

Over the past few weeks, the world has watched carefully as President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry made a plea that US military action is the only plausible reaction to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged recent use of chemical weapons on his own citizens.

Syria acknowledged chemical weapons to be forbidden upon signing the Geneva Protocol in 1925, and therefore the United States has accused the Syrian government of breaking international law, arguing that more than 1,400 innocent people were killed in the Aug. 21 attack. Assad denied that he was responsible for the attack against his own people, stating that there is no direct evidence against him. He also warned that America should “expect everything” in retaliation to any strikes against Syria.

In their speeches, Obama and Kerry echoed that it is our country’s humanitarian duty to punish Syria with a strike. To justify a military strike, a DVD was created with gruesome footage of the chemical attack victims and was shared with Congress and the public, but the United States has not yet provided any explicit evidence to prove the Syrian government responsible. If Obama loses the vote on the strike, critics say it will make him look like a lame duck that is no longer capable of gaining his own country’s support.

What a mess.

It sure does seem like our government has some sort of insatiability with unnecessary military ventures. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in other conflicts that we have left unnoticed, but as soon as we find a foreign conflict we can benefit from, here we are again, jumping to the conclusion that our involvement is absolutely life-or-death necessary.

Ironically, Obama and Kerry have made the point that any involvement with Syria will not turn into another Iraq or Afghanistan. It seems pretty clear, however, that dropping bombs on Syria is an easy way for us to induce more conflict with other nations. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and changing an entire culture is no easy task.

Members of this administration also argued that America’s reputation is at stake. Meanwhile, their own reputations are dwindling with the American people.

With credibility problems that stretch far beyond the current crisis, the White House has become notorious for sticking their nose in other peoples’ business. In the past few months, the federal government has been caught in scandal after scandal, from lying about the IRS to spying with the NSA.

The major problem in the Obama administration’s argument is that it’s backward messages have left the average American with countless unanswered questions: Why are we immediately engaging in military force rather than first developing a diplomatic strategy? How will striking Syria do good for the people in this country? How does fighting violence with violence make us safer? Most importantly, shouldn’t we be more focused on our problems within, like correcting some of the corruption and piling debt that already exists on our own soil?

Military force is not a practical way to establish peace. If peace and justice are not our goal, then what is it? No immediate political outcome is going to result from launching a missile; conflict is not going to be resolved with a few bombs.

In light of the Syria fiasco, it is disappointing to think about how far this country has strayed from its foundations. Abraham Lincoln once said, “The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.” Americans envision their president to be far from a king; he has been elected by the people for the people, with the duty to act in the best interest of those that he governs.

Before making haste in response to the wrongdoings in Syria, the federal government should use this time to consider every possible scenario and come up with a long-term plan of action for what they will do in the coming months, and even years from now.

Congress is supposed to, by design, engage in a slow-moving lawmaking process. There must be other solutions to this conflict.

Rachel Surdi can be reached by email at [email protected].