Airstrikes unlikely to end atrocities in Syria

By The Beacon | September 19, 2013 12:50am

By Megan Parker |

There is no bigger political water cooler talk going on today internationally than the debate over whether or not the U.S. should send airstrikes into Syria to attempt to end the mass killings of Syrian people using chemical weapons.

Conditions in Syria have recently caught international attention with the information that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been using chemical warfare to exterminate groups of Syrian people that oppose his reign. The U.S., Britain and France all took up ideas of using military action to put an end to these terrible atrocities.

After the British Parliament denied the idea of striking Syria, even after the emotional, empowered speech delivered by Prime Minister David Cameron, the U.S. public has shown little support for the idea of another military invasion. While Obama has the power to make this decision unilaterally and deploy airstrikes to Syria if he sees fit, he chose to step back and leave the decision to the people. Divulging his unitary power back to Congress to decide was a strategy used by Obama to remove himself from the fire that would no doubt be aimed at the U.S. due to this important decision.

If Congress votes yes on using military strikes on Syria, the blame will not fall on the president, as heat from the international community would likely descend on our government. If it votes no to the airstrikes, then Obama can publicly say that he wanted to go forward and stop the atrocities in Syria, but that he supports our robust democracy and must bend to the will of the people.

With a very split government on the Hill due to the Republican House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate, this decision will be of huge debate in the coming weeks. In this case, I would have to agree with the anti-airstrike group including Republican Senator Ted Cruz, in disagreeing with the president’s plan of attack.

I disagree for a few reasons. First, the public’s enthusiasm for military involvement in international conflict has deflated, leaving little support for more participation in these types of happenings. This case is neither a direct threat to our national security nor is it endangering U.S. citizens. While this may sound unsympathetic, it is merely a practical reflection of the public sentiment regarding military involvement in more conflict zones.

Second, while Assad’s actions are deplorable and should be condemned, this does not mean that the rebels we would be aiding and arming are a better option. There are many rebel groups that have connections to many known extremist groups and have caused much of the conflict as well. What kind of message would it send to be taking power away from one disgraceful Syrian and shifting it to a group of Syrians who may be just as guilty of large scale brutalities as well?

Last, I see a lot of unintended consequences arising from the airstrike plan being deployed. This never-ending Sunni-Shiite battle is complicated and deep-rooted in Syrian history. International military action would be limited and would only affect the surface level of this conflict. It could trigger a chain reaction of escalating violence that would only progress the situation and create more carnage.

The bottom line is that we are not the police of the world and military action is not going to solve the world’s problems. This type of action would only press pause on the immediate danger, and would in turn intensify long-term problems for the U.S.

Megan Parker is a senior political science major. She can be reached at