I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the situation in Syria is none of our business. Are people dying? Yes. Were chemical weapons used? Evidently. So why wouldn’t we do something about it?
First of all, Syria is a “sovereign nation.” That means Syria has the right to control its own destiny, make its own decisions, etc, insofar as these decisions don’t harm other countries directly. That’s actually a tricky one, since one country could sovereignly decide to withhold a needed resource from another country, thereby harming the country, without breaking sovereignty. But I digress. The basic facts are that the government of Syria has been fighting a civil war for the past two years. There have been approximately 120,000 people killed in this war, with approximately 30,000 of these dying this year. To restate, we have Syrians killing other Syrians. Sovereignty applies.
People think we need to “do something” in Syria because people are dying or because they are using chemical weapons. Do these people think our military is going to walk in there like a mother grabbing her fighting children by the ears, ending the killing? No. Our military is good at two things: breaking things and killing people. So tell me which is going to solve the Syrian civil war: Americans killing Syrians, or Americans breaking Syrian buildings?
Sovereignty is important to countries. Here in the United States we have certain laws that apply to when we may or may not legally kill our citizens. Two examples come to mind: death penalty and abortion. It would be just as wrong for us to bomb Syria because of their recent actions as it would be for another country to bomb the United States because they don’t approve of our policy on capital punishment or abortion. And we would be justifiably upset with that country.
Secondly: Syria is not the only place where people are dying right now. Here is an incomplete list of places in the world where people are currently dying in armed conflicts (with 2012 fatality numbers, but the conflicts are ongoing):
- Colombia (4692)
- Afghanistan (8398)
- Somalia (2620)
- Yemen (2321)
- Pakistan (6211)
- Mexico (18,161)
- Sudan (4319)
- Iraq (4573)
There are some thirty other places where people are also dying in armed conflict, but in smaller numbers. Which ones of these should we go solve? Who gets to pick which of these wars we should attempt to end? The only difference between Syria and any of these is: Syria had chemical weapons.
I will say it again, the United States has no business getting involved in this conflict. I get the feeling from listening to the news that President Obama is bound and determined to get involved. I weep for those American servicemen and women who will die in this conflict, because “something had to be done.”
Sometimes the thing that should be done, Mr. President, is nothing.