Oppression. Revolution. 80,000 dead. I am hesitant by nature, but this does not often apply to my intellectual proclamations. We get involved or we don’t. We send weapons or we don’t. We invade or we don’t. Yet, the Syrian Civil War reduces me to Hamlet, putting off making a decision as to what must be done.
I know many truths, as well as the truths that contradict those truths.
1) The United States is the hegemon and with great power comes great responsibility, an idea I refer to as “Spiderman Theory.” I also know that the United States should hesitate to do anything without international support. If we cannot convince our closest allies of the righteousness of our cause, then we are probably wrong.
“Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
2) Fear of repercussions should not stop us from doing the right thing. Good should not and cannot wait for the permission of evil, or the apathy of our friends, to act. I also know that Russia and China, both of whom have significant interests in Syria, have nuclear weapons. We cannot get into a quarrel with nuclear nations assuming that we will be able to work our way out.
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.
3) The main lesson of the Holocaust, and all genocide before and since, is that we are our brother’s keepers. We have a moral responsibility to use our power for good and Bashar al-Assad isn’t going to stop because we ask politely. I also know that the use of force to achieve political victory does not send the message that the use of force is an illegitimate means to achieve political victory.
“’Tis too much proved, that with devotion’s visage
And pious action we do sugar o’er
The devil himself.”
4) It is the worst of things to end the life of another human being, reinforcing the notion that we must act before more are killed. I also know that military force is as blunt an instrument as exists. We will need to kill to bring this conflict to an end.
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns”
5) In order to do good, we may need to engage in evil. Force can be used justly if great effort is made to minimize said evil. I also know that wars are unpredictable and that evil is self-perpetuating, and as such, spirals out of control in a hurry.
“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”
I can’t help but feel as though the right thing to do is the most obvious. Stop the murdering dictator. Yet, with so many consequences abound, the right thing to do is clearly the least sensible.
I had hoped that writing this would crystallize a course of action. That is not the case.