Recent reports suggest that the United States and its allies are preparing to launch targeted missile strikes against Syrian military targets as early as Thursday. This comes in response to widely acknowledged reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people, the most recent use killing more than 1,300 Syrians, some of them children. President Obama has been working with Prime Minister David Cameron to determine a plan of attack. Cameron announced via Twitter that he was recalling parliament to debate the matter:
Speaker agrees my request to recall Parliament on Thurs. There'll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 27, 2013
The United States and its allies are left with no option but to intervene. President Obama long ago promised the world that any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line.” This is now the second time Syria has used chemical weapons against its people. For the United States to maintain any credibility on the world stage, it must act. It cannot let the “red line” remain an empty threat.
To be clear, intervention does not mean a full scale boots on the ground war a la Iraq or Afghanistan. If done smartly, the United States and its allies can send a clear message to the Assad regime that the use of chemical weapons comes with a crippling price tag. It is a message that can and must be sent.
Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Evil has reared it’s ugly head in Syria, and it is time for the United States to step forward and once again lead the fight against evil. We have made foreign policy mistakes in recent years to be sure, and we have neglected bubbling issues domestically, but we cannot retreat from our duty to humanity. We cannot sit idly by as thousands of Syrians are killed by their own government, now at the hands of chemical weapons.
Some say it is not our problem, we are not the world police. But if not America then who? With great power comes great responsibility. We should always act with our allies where possible and, thankfully, it appears that Great Britain and France are ready to act on Syria as well. But if we are to remain a great power in this world, a force for good, then we must lead the world response to the Syrian government’s atrocities.
Some say that there are injustices all over the world, why intervene in Syria? It is true that injustice and evil exist in many corners of the world. And it is equally true that the United States cannot, nor should it, intervene in every such case. For example, there is little we can do to stop African tribal wars or kidnappings in Mexico. But where evil and injustice exist, and we can make a difference, we must.
Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people, including innocent women and children, is an atrocity that the United States and its allies can do something about. We can make the price of using chemical weapons so high that it simply isn’t worth the risk to the Assad regime to do it again. And we can do that without putting soldiers on the ground who will become mired in yet another middle eastern civil war. Whether that means we target our air strikes at Syria’s chemical weapons facilities or other targets is a question for the military experts. But what I do know is that no government on this earth should be able to use a weapon of mass destruction against its own people without severe consequences.
We have too often in recent years waited for others to act. The time for American leadership is now. For if no one fills the vacuum when evil displaces good, then Edmund Burke’s quote shall ring true in our time.
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