Make the hard choice to intervene in Syria

Op-eds Opinions

In the last two years, Syria’s civil war has shown that a hefty price must be paid on the road to democracy. The clash of dictatorship has proven to be more difficult than was expected. The Syrian nation is far more ready to get help from foreign powers in order to have democracy in its country.

Nobody expected Assad, as a doctor first and then a politician, to show such extreme brutality against his nation. Manslaughter of more than a hundred thousand people in Syria is a representation of genocide. Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies had to intervene long ago, but failure to do so cost lots of innocent lives and the darkest bloodshed in Middle East history. The world did not need to see the burial of more than a thousand bodies, among them children and infants, from the inhuman and savage act of a chemical attack.

Certainly, Assad does not care about the number of dead bodies. History is full of stories of dictators who killed their people to stay in power. Yes, power has more value than human lives for dictators. That is sad but unfortunately true. Assad ruined all of his chances, and now bickering within Obama’s administration over planning a limited military strike against Assad’s regime is completely unfair and highly unjust, based on democratic values. Any moral and conscientious person who has seen the dead bodies must condemn Assad’s brutality by all means necessary.

Genocide has become an issue of our time again. In the late ’80s and mid-’90s, genocide was an issue in Eastern Europe, especially in former Yugoslavia. Now, it has become an issue in the Middle East. Use of chemical weapons by Assad’s regime was predictable a year ago when Obama warned that their use was a red line for the United States. Yet, immorally and unconscionably, Assad used that against his nation to send a clear message of his belief in genocide to Obama and Western powers.

Now, the critical question remains whether the United States and its allies have a duty to respond to such a brutal attack or not. This is not a question of democratic values. This is a question of conscience and moral values that are at stake now. To answer that question from a moral and human perspective is easy. However, to make a response from democratic values is extremely difficult. Assad’s allies have argued that the United States is not the police of the world. They believe that genocide is a firm act and human lives do not have any meaning, perception or value at all. Let’s kill innocent people to keep Assad in power. This time, the United States’ response did not come from a political perspective. It came from a magnification of moral values. Beautifully enough, this time the act of genocide parallels itself with conscience. It makes people think about Obama and his actions differently than the Bush administration. It is interesting to see that war becomes an issue of morality when genocide is involved. History repeats itself in different shapes and colours.

Obama’s lifelong hero, President Abraham Lincoln, made a remarkable and brave decision to end slavery in a time that racial prejudice was a main manifestation of American society. Today, Obama needs to make a brave decision to stop genocide in Syria. Is he capable of doing that? This is a question of whether genocide is right or wrong, and history is full of those questions. Let’s answer one at the time it can make a difference.