Consequences are grave if US fails to act against Syria

2013-09-13T15:15:00Z 2013-09-13T15:32:06Z Consequences are grave if US fails to act against SyriaBy Abraham Hamadeh Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

For more than two years, Syria has been ravaged in a brutal civil war, taking the lives of more than 100,000 men, women and children.

I’m no stranger to Syria. It’s the birthplace of my parents and I’ve traveled there many times throughout my childhood. My memories of Syria are positive. It’s the cradle of civilization, where prophets, kings and emperors once roamed, and now it’s stuck in a nightmarish civil war — with no end in sight.

Adhering to my libertarian views on government, I once advocated for neutrality and military restraint against Syria. However, last month’s chemical attack by the Syrian government has changed my reluctance for military action.

Syria brazenly defied President Obama’s “red line” threat last month when elements of the government released sarin gas in the outskirts of Damascus, killing more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children. The Syrian government overstepped its bounds and it knows it. Now, America must respond.

I commend Obama’s decision to seek authorization from Congress. Not only do I believe it to be constitutional, but it also gives the United States an opportunity to show the world that we stand united against violations of our warnings and heinous acts. Our friends and adversaries alike are watching closely to see how we respond. To allow the Syrian government to go unpunished for its chemical attack undermines the United States’ credibility, not only with Syria but with other rogue nations. If the Syrian government goes unanswered, what prevents them or another country from committing the offense again, or taking our warning seriously? The red line Obama announced last year must be enforced.

I understand the vast majority of Americans and especially our service members are war-fatigued, and so am I. But we must not and cannot allow the Syrian government to get away with the largest chemical attack in modern history and flagrantly ignore our repeated warnings.

So far, the president has proposed a limited military intervention, one that involves no ground troops, and likely will be targeting military facilities and airfields with cruise missiles. This course of action is the right response. It’s proportionate, measured and decisive.

I recognize that there are likely no good options for Syria; on one hand a secular despotic dictator has brutally suppressed a once-peaceful protest movement, while on the other hand, foreign terrorist elements have been increasing in numbers in a country not known to be an extremist hotbed. However, the Syrian civil war has implications across the region. Millions of refugees have flooded Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

The war has even spilled over into Lebanon, where bombings have occurred in its two most populated cities.

Israel, our greatest ally in the region, has conducted two military operations within Syria. The spillover of the conflict is significant and if continued will only get worse.

Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake have voted in favor of limited intervention in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They understand that in this difficult time, we as Americans need to remove our party labels and put our country above politics. I urge the rest of Arizona’s congressional delegation to follow their lead.

I have roamed the streets of Syria where once bustling cities have turned into mountains of rubble and have met ordinary Syrians— no different from you or me — who have now been kidnapped, tortured and executed.

The whole world is watching, and the consequences of doing nothing are far graver than what the president has proposed. An American response punishes the Syrian regime and maintains our credibility while also sending a stern message globally that the use of chemical weapons against civilians will not be tolerated by the United States and will not go unanswered — even if we have to go at it alone.

Abraham Hamadeh is a graduate of Arizona State University and is currently a first-year law student at the University of Arizona College of Law. Follow him on Twitter at @AbrahamHamadeh

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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