Off to War We Go?

There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.
– Albert Camus

Update: As of 3:30 pm PT, the House of Commons in Britain has voted down the motion to authorize military intervention in Syria.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, we somehow have found ourselves (potentially) in the middle of another global crisis. On August 21, 2013, poison gas was used during an attack near Damascus, killing hundreds of people. The use of chemical weapons during Syria’s civil war has ignited a fire throughout Western civilization. Yes, we have lashed out, but now the question remains: do we intervene?

British Prime Minister David Cameron seems to think so. At the meeting of the U.N. Security Council earlier today, Cameron was a huge proponent of Western intervention. Yet I am not so sure we should take up our arms, so to speak, and become heavily involved in Syria’s civil war. The Joint Intelligence Committee in Britain strongly believes that the Syrian government used these chemical weapons, but I say forget strong belief – I would like undeniable certainty. We don’t want an Operation Genoa­-Newsroom debacle on our hands, do we? All I’m saying is let’s check and double check to be sure rebel forces were not involved in the carrying out of these attacks.

The problem is this: if we are going to respond, we need to respond swiftly. The world as a whole has worked together to ensure that chemical weapons remain unused, so while we may be using firearms, IEDs, bombs, and the like, at least we are attempting to keep some semblance of this planet untainted. Either way, the Obama administration is hard at work to determine the appropriate course of action. While President Bashar al-Assad claims that the government forces were merely victims of these attacks, officials from both Britain and the United States say that there is no way the rebel forces have the capabilities to pull off an attack using chemical weapons. It’s just one big game of he said, she said. And we are just throwing the rulebook straight out the window.

Cameron’s worry is that al-Assad is testing us – testing the world, in a way, to see if he can get away with the use of these weapons. Britain has also released that they believe the Syrian government has used chemical weapons previously as well. On fourteen different occasions to be exact.

Yet I am not the only one that remembers Iraq and Afghanistan. The wounds from these wars are still fresh, the scars have barely begun to heal over, and yet Britain is encouraging a response into another event in the Middle East. This decision is no easy one, and I do not envy the Prime Minister or our President, but either way, a timeline needs to be made of what we will do, and each and every plausible consequence needs to be thought out. We cannot afford to bury ourselves in another decade-long war. Especially if it’s going to end up like Iraq. I believe the invasions in 2003 taught us enough. We went there to find chemical and biological weapons, and hey, turns out, there were none. Thank you so much for that one, Bush.

So while Parliament issues out its vote on Britain’s response (or non-response), President Obama stated yesterday that he has no doubt that it was the Syrian government that used these chemical weapons on its own civilians. Yet that does not necessarily mean a military strike. Over 160 members of Congress have called for the President to hold a vote or a “full debate” prior to taking any action against the Syrian government. And even members of the GOP in Congress have written letters urging Obama to receive authorization from Congress before committing our troops abroad again.

Either way, I am sure the West will have a response for Syria, one way or another. I wholeheartedly believe that the use of chemical weapons is something that the world should never see – these attacks and those behind them need to be dismantled. Is an international response necessary? I believe so. Am I encouraging that this civil war be made into an international one? Absolutely not. I have read and seen how the wars of our past have torn apart individuals as a whole. Soldiers come back changed, and some do not come back at all. Like I said, we need to thoroughly investigate Syria and its government as well as the possible scenarios and consequences of our actions. Once we commit, it’s done. There’s no going back, there’s no rewind button, no eraser for life. And I would hate for President Obama to be associated with an Iraq-esque situation, one that I’m sure will be associated with former President Bush’s legacy for the rest of time. But for now, Congress is in recess until September 9, so stay tuned.

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