OPINION: America does not need to be involved in Syrian civil war

Kerian McDonald, Viewpoints Director

For the last decade, killing has been America’s business, and it looks like business is about to get good. As the death toll in Syria rises to 70,000, President Obama continues to stubbornly pursue an interventionist agenda, hesitating to accept a diplomatic solution, and pushing us into another Middle Eastern conflict despite the protests of the American public. Another war would add to our nation’s already insurmountable debt, further complicate relations with Russia, and accelerate the growth of anti-American sentiment in the area.
Following last month’s chemical attacks by the Syrian military, President Obama and the leaders of the other NATO nations found their excuse for direct military involvement. This begs the question, why do we choose now to act? With 70,000 dead, why does it matter that an additional estimated 1,400 were killed with the chemical agents? The deaths of all lost in this conflict are tragic, but after the loss of so many, why do these deaths demand American vengeance? Do we respect the Geneva Convention to the extent that we are willing to risk so much to uphold it? It’s obvious that there is some other force behind this initiative; this is not the typical Team America World Police routine. It seems like a ploy to take down an oppressive regime, and it will accomplish nothing except damaging our alliances in the region and bringing more pain and suffering to the people of Syria.
By supplying the Free Syrian Army and other rebel groups with weapons, training from CIA operatives, and other aid, the Obama administration is repeating the fatal mistakes of the Reagan and Bush administrations: arming people who may very well oppose us in the future. Anyone remember Afghanistan, where we supplied the Mujahedeen rebels, whose members would later go on to form Al-Qaeda and the Taliban? The U.S. has already designated both the Al Nustra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, two groups fighting with the Syrian rebels, as Al-Qaeda affiliates. Any weapons or training we give to them will definitely be used against us and our allies in the future.
When it comes to getting involved in another nation’s revolution, you break it, you buy it. If we launch this strike, we will be held responsible for whatever happens to Syria afterwards. If we stay, we risk spending countless lives and millions of dollars on establishing a stable, democratic government. Has that been successful in Iraq and Afghanistan? If we leave, we will leave behind a war-torn shell of a nation, split up by warring gangs and political factions all vying for power. Another Libyan anarchy, anyone?
Thankfully, Russian President Vladimir Putin put forth a reasonable proposal. According to the joint American-Russian agreement, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be required to list the types, quantities, and locations of all the chemical weapons in his arsenal. Although al-Assad has agreed to comply, both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have stated that the consequence of non-compliance will indeed be American military action.
It seems that the American people will just have to hold their breath, and hope that a power-mad dictator will be able to see reason. Diplomacy and cooperation is the only way out of this grave we’ve dug for ourselves, and if it fails that grave will be filled with both Syrian and American bodies.