Understanding The Syrian Conflict
If you have read any newspaper this past weekend, then you’ve most likely read or seen an article on US interaction with Syria. If you haven’t been paying attention, Syria has been in a bloody civil war for nearly two and a half years now. The problem lies in both religion and cruel government. The people of Syria are, for the vast majority, Sunni Muslim. The entire government, however, is Alawite, a branch of Shiite Muslim. However (and I do see their point), most all Sunni Muslims don’t even agree that Alawites are even close to the Muslim ideology. Syria started its rebellion at around the same time as the rest of its neighbors in the famous Arab Spring, but their conflict has been lasting much longer. Around a week and a half ago, about 1400 civilians died due to chemical weapons used by the government army. Nearly 400 of these casualties were children. The Secretary of State, John Kerry called the attacks and the reports from hospitals an “inconceivable horror”.
With this redoubled attack by the government, President Obama has started a push to enter the conflict in Syria and end their war. He certainly has reason to make this argument; over 3,500 people checked themselves into hospitals near the Damascus area with symptoms matching those of nerve-agent exposure. There are already currently five American destroyers and one Marine amphibious assault ship in the Mediterranean, ready for action as soon as the order is given. For all the death, why hasn’t anyone led the charge into Syria?
Simple answer is that we live in the 21st century and things have to be more complicated than that. To start off, Obama cannot just send the order to attack, especially with our current deficit. In 2009, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize, specifically mentioning his “multilateral diplomacy”. Obama doesn’t have this kind of worldwide agreement, and he doesn’t even have it in his own party. 54 Democrats in the House of Representatives signed a letter cautioning the President against an “unwise war” and to work towards “international consensus”. As of yet, only the French President Hollande has offered Obama support in a war against Syria.
Due to the negative response Obama received, he has made the decision to back off for a while. Too many people have criticized a strike against Syria, and even though Nobel Peace prizes can’t be revoked, Obama doesn’t want to ruin his public image and act out of character. Despite being 100% lined up for the attack, the President backed off and asked for a vote in Congress. This move will allow the country to move as a whole nation, and give time for the U.N and the Arab League to make decisions of their own.
And now, the world waits for Congress’ decision. And it will be a close one. In most polls, decision to act in Syria was split nearly 50-50. In terms of morals, all can agree that the world cannot let the Assad regime go unpunished. An actually debatable question is if the U.S can afford committing to yet another Middle Eastern conflict. Our trend of being the “world’s police force” is for the greater good, but we’ve wreaked havoc on our economy by keeping it up for so long. The decision is a tough one to make, and I’m sure controversy will surround Congress no matter what conclusion they arrive at. But in the meantime, we wait to hear from them.