No Matter What We Decide to Do With Syria — It’s a “No-Win” Situation

obama-syriaI had planned to write an article which openly stated my stance on the possibility of our military involvement in Syria.  I’ve listened to the arguments and I understand each stance — both the pro-military and anti-military involvement — people are making.

Then it struck me; no matter what we do, it’s not going to matter.  Because at the end of the day, no matter what we do, it’s a no-win situation.

If we decide to go in, we’ll be right.  A corrupt dictator has slaughtered over 120,000 of his people in the last 2+ years, and as the self-proclaimed “greatest country on earth,” how can we sit by and allow that to happen?  Especially when evidence is mounting that he’s repeatedly used chemical weapons.

And yes, the use of chemical weapons does change things.

If someone doesn’t step in, I promise you the bloodshed is going to get much worse.  When the death toll hits 500,000 and Assad is openly using chemical weapons weekly, will we then act?  Then at that point the question will be similar to what some have asked now, “Well, why did we wait?”

If we could have prevented the spread of chemical weapons attacks and expedited the end to this bloody civil war, why did we wait until tens (if not hundreds) of thousands more died before we decided to do anything?  I mean, isn’t that what quite a few are asking right now?

Whether or not you agree with it, if we do nothing, history will reflect on the United States as a country which knew chemical weapons were used against women and children—yet did nothing.

So if we go in, and we’re successful, we would have done the right thing.

However, if we don’t go in or act in any way, we’ll be right as well.  With that I mean, we aren’t the “world’s police.”  And while I sympathize with the tragedies going on in Syria, this county has a growing mound of our own problems to deal with.

Even when you step away from the humanitarian aspect of the whole situation, who’s to say our involvement will accomplish anything?  A “limited 90-day campaign” sounds nice for those who feel we need to do something, but don’t want another Iraq on our hands.

But what if a year from now we’re still talking about the civil war in Syria?   Do we call for more “limited 90-day campaigns?”  And if we keep authorizing strike after strike, then it’s no longer a “limited 90-day strike” — it becomes full-on military involvement in a civil war in which we really have no business being involved.

And say we do help remove Assad, who takes his place?  Who’s to say they won’t be just as bad, if not worse?  Doesn’t this bring up the cliché and controversial saying of, “The enemy you know is better than the enemy you don’t?”

How many of us have worked a job where we hated our boss, only to find them finally removed from their position, and replaced by—an even worse boss?

Let’s just be honest, what’s going on in Syria warrants our attention—but it’s simply none of our business.  If the U.N. wants to act, I’d back support with a strong coalition of global allies, but more or less “going it alone” just doesn’t seem like the best response to this situation.

As Elizabeth Warren brilliantly said, “Good intentions alone will not help us.  What Assad has done is reprehensible. It violates international law, and it violates the law of humanity.  But it is critically important that before we act that we have a plan, a goal and we have a reasonable way for ensuring that goal.  I think we’re now in a state of flux.”

As it stands now I see no goal or real plan.  I see a proposal and a hope—but neither of those constitute an answer to the point which Senator Warren emphasized and I absolutely agree with.

If we go in, we’ll be the United States standing up to a genocidal tyrant who used chemical weapons on his own people and needed to be removed from power.  But we’ll also be the United States meddling in the business of another country which it had no business getting involved in.

If we don’t go in we’ll be a country which sat by and allowed thousands of innocent people to die in a horrific civil war that’s currently spanned over 2 years (and shows no sign of ending), who did nothing when information came to light that the Syrian government used sarin gas to kill thousands of its own people.  But we’ll also have stayed out of a country in which we shouldn’t be getting involved in their affairs, and we’ll have possibly avoided getting into our third war in just over a decade.

Going to Syria “stands up” to countries like Russia and Iran which support Assad’s horrific regime; yet going into Syria also strains already tense relationships with these countries.  That tension could then lead to much larger problems later down the road.

Which is what I feel Senator Warren alluded to when she said “unintended consequences.”  What might our action, or inaction, eventually lead to that we haven’t even imagined yet?

And the truth seems, as it relates to Syria, no matter what we do we’ll be both the hero and the villain.

Because sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the right thing to do.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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