I, along with most of the American people, along with many members of the United States Congress, am unsure about my thoughts on President Obama’s recent proposal to use military force in response to the Syrian government’s proven chemical weapon attacks on civilians.
For those who are not particularly familiar with the situation in Syria and how we fit into the picture, let’s go back a couple of years. In late 2010, part of what is known as the Arab Spring (a wave of demonstrations, protests, riots, and civil wars in the Arab world), included Syrian civilians protesting against the government under president Bashar al-Assad. That civilian rebellion gave way to a civil war that has continued to this day.
In August 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced to the public that evidence had been found proving Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians (Assad denied this on CBS). On August 31st, President Obama called for “limited military action” against the Syrian regime. Congress is expected to vote in favor or against in the coming days. As of now, polls suggest the American public seems extremely torn, although as days pass, they seem to be drifting against the proposal.
The President and Secretary of State have stressed the attack against Assad would be limited, and could still potentially be prevented if Syria were to do something about their possession of chemical weapons. Countries like Russia have come forth proposing possible solutions, to which the U.S. has expressed interest, but skepticism.
When trying to figure out my own opinions on the matter, I wondered what the people in our small island were thinking. I set out on a mission to find Coronado residents from different backgrounds and ideologies, and discover what their thoughts were. I asked them two basic questions, what they thought about:
Here’s what Coronado has to say:
Ian Kornfeld, junior at Coronado High School, thinks “Congress should vote in the affirmation,” for both “humanitarian grounds and valid strategic interests of the US that will be undermined by inaction.”
“It is important to note that the message inaction sends when the President draws a red line at the use of chemical weapons, AND the international community condemns the use of such weapons will hinder our position and our credibility in negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program, which, in my mind, is perhaps the greatest threat to regional stability, US interests in the region, and international trends towards nuclear non-proliferation.”
Shana Douglass, a CHS senior who identifies as “conservative for most issues,” said she understands the president’s “need to do something in order to show the world that we are defenders of human rights, but drone strikes are not the answer.” Douglass stresses that “we don't have the means or money to begin a war in Syria where we would essentially be fighting two wars (with the government and with fragmented protesters).” She doesn’t think “killing more innocent people is the answer.”
Douglass honestly admits she doesn’t have “a great solution, since attacking and waiting both cross moral lines,” but she believes “we need to stay out of Syria for now, and focus on domestic issues like recovery from our last war.” Shana’s final thoughts are that the U.S. should, at best, act as a “mediator.”
A Coronado resident, who preferred to remain anonymous, who leans significantly to the right, opines differently. He says that “if Assad did in fact use chemical weapons on innocent children, as it appears, then limited and very targeted military action is justified.”
Another Coronado resident, who also preferred to remain anonymous, whose voting ticket has been split both ways in the past, doesn’t think the U.S, under the current situation, should take action in Syria.
“We wouldn’t have the support of our allies. We don’t seem to have clear objectives. It would detract from our stature in the community of nations. Finally, it feels too much like a proxy war between us and Russia and I’m old enough to remember how scary and destructive that dynamic can be.”
Doubting the purity of our motives, he added: “I think the U.S. has to stop acting as the world’s policeman. The work is dangerous for us as a nation, debilitating to our national economy and detrimental to our standing in the world.”
One final, and important, opinion, is that of someone with a background of military service. Glenn Hopson, a retired Naval officer and long-time Coronado resident, gave his thoughts:
“I think that President Obama has a reasonable position between ignoring atrocity and an unlimited war. I hope Congress supports the President - especially those who believe that military action is sometimes warranted.”
Personally, I believe the President needs be more specific about what exactly an attack on Syrian regime would entail. To some extent, I do think countries like ours, that enjoy freedom to the point of taking it for granted, do hold somewhat of a moral responsibility to help those who don’t count with the same benefits we do. However, I think another war is not what we need.
Your comments are welcome below. Constructive community discussion on issues like this is healthy, but please remember to be respectful toward others and their opinions, and to be and stay informed before commenting.
Staff Writer Intern
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