Student views on U.S. involvement in Syria – View One

Student views on U.S. involvement in Syria - View One

Nicole Lobo, Opinions Editor

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” We all know Charles Rosner’s famous words, and yet, how often do we actually apply them to our everyday lives? At 2:30 a.m. on August 21, a monstrosity occurred. Warheads were filled with chemical weapons –work of the Assad regime, by wide speculation – and fired outside of Damascus to kill rebels and instill fear into the hearts of the country’s citizens in what has become known as the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century.

All of this begs the question, how innocent are we? The United States has certainly made use of chemicals for militaristic purposes in the past – Agent Orange in Vietnam, Fallujah, and alleged depleted uranium (though disputed) in Iran. It’s natural for one to question our authority as a country in scorning Syria for their business.

However, it is very important to look at the facts. According to the New York Times, 51 were killed in Fallujah, and the U.S. military used Agent Orange only to kill herbs and plants (destroying the cover of Vietnamese soldiers), discontinuing its use in 1971 after the lethal effects were found. The Syrian chemical attacks took place just days ago- in 2013, the age of discovery and scientific awareness.

If the well-founded allegations are true, the Assad regime was more than aware of the fatal effects to be felt by their Syrian citizens. BBC World News reports that 1,429 innocent civilians were murdered, over 400 of whom were mere children.  President Barack Obama described the scene as “…hospitals overflowing with victims; terrible images of the dead…young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government.”

With one of the top militaries in the world, it only makes sense for the U.S. to take some measures in standing up for the Syrian people; perhaps not for permanent conflict, but at least to provide a more certain condition of stability. When this kind of annihilation takes place, it would be nothing less than an atrocity for the United States of America to stand by.

President Obama said in his August 31st statement, “This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria’s borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.”

Obviously, it seems almost irrelevant for high school students to take any interest in the matter. None of us are war experts, military strategists, or insiders in either the Assad regime or Obama presidency. However, we are students at Cathedral Catholic high school, a private school affiliated with the Roman Catholic church.  Isaiah 1:17 says to “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” If U.S. military involvement would help protect those who need it, then it’s certainly our duty to be well informed on the means our country is taking to help the helpless. President Obama posed the question, “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”

American military action in Syria goes beyond political party differences. It goes beyond whether or not our country has debt, and it goes beyond whether or not we approve of the president. As the Commander in Chief of the United States military put it, “Ultimately, this is not about who occupies this office at any given time; it’s about who we are as a country.”

The United States of America were founded on the very principles of freedom, justice, and equality for all. When other countries deny their citizens the right to life? That’s when the United States needs to get involved. Not necessarily from a standpoint where we need another war (because let’s be honest, we don’t), but from the standpoint of us needing to restore basic human rights to other people.

“We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us,” President Obama said. And if we don’t stand up for the defenseless, avenging those who passed and preventing a repeat of the abomination, then we truly are just as much a part of the problem.

President Obama is currently seeking approval from Congress in order to take military action; they will vote when Congress comes back into session on September 6.  But in the words of our President, “In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.”