War vs. Humanity: The Liberal Conflict Over Our Possible Involvement in Syria

syria-civil-warWhen it comes to the possibility of U.S. military involvement in the bloody civil war going on in Syria, there seems to be an endless stream of opinions.  From Republicans the popular response was, “Watch, the “unconstitutional” President Obama will bypass Congress and do whatever he wants!”

Well, that was until yesterday when President Obama made public his desire to use our military in Syria, but only  with Congressional approval.

So much for that attempted right-wing attack on the President.  Though don’t kid yourself, they’ll find some other way to complain about whatever he decides to do.

But for liberals the issue seems much more complicated.  See, many liberals are typically two things:

  • Against war
  • Advocates for helping the poor, sick, helpless and the needy

Well, the problems in Syria present a unique and complicated situation.  It’s a war which has slaughtered thousands of poor, sick, helpless and needy people.

Over 120,000 have died and thousands more will continue to die as this war escalates.  Over the last several months there have been multiple reports of chemical weapons being used by Bashar al-Assad and countless images of mutilated women and children strewn out in the streets.

So what we have is the liberal struggle between opposing war, yet being appalled at the horrific events that continue to unfold in Syria.

And to be honest, I’m still unsure of what actions I support our country taking.

But I’m not someone who blindly opposes war.  While many liberals are against almost all invasive military actions, I tend to lean more towards understanding that while war is tragic, it’s sometimes needed.

I’m also not keen on the idea that the United States should act as the “world’s police.”  That said, I do understand as the world’s leading military power, we’re often the nation many look to when they need help.  Fair or unfair, that’s just the burden we face as a world power.

However, when I see the atrocities in Syria, I’m torn.  As are many liberals, it seems.  Because at the end of the day what do we value most — our general aversion to war, or our stance to defend life?  As much as liberals might harp on about our military and the innocents we kill when we get involved in war, the truth is life doesn’t cease to be taken simply because we’re not involved.

So does death become less of a tragedy because it wasn’t our weapons that caused it?  And what’s worse — sitting back and allowing thousands to be slaughtered, or doing what we can to try and expedite an end to the civil war?

Whether or not we get involved, innocent people are going to die.  So it just doesn’t make any sense to me when people seem to act as if the only way innocent lives are lost is when we’re involved in war.

The debate (as far as the loss of life goes) breaks down to one question — will our involvement help reduce the number of innocent lives that are lost?

Another issue liberals bring up, and rightfully so, are our own problems.  In our own country we have countless issues, a massive debt and millions of people starving.  So shouldn’t we worry about our own people first?

Well, is that the attitude liberals really want to have?  Aren’t we the party that lives on the premise of helping the helpless, defending the defenseless and giving aid to those who need it?  Are we just going to turn a blind eye to images showing the bodies of thousands of dead or mutilated children that have come as a result of a nearly 3-year-long civil war?

Are we not the party which constantly rallies on the issue of human rights for all?

Is our defense for humanity now restricted to only Americans?  Because looking at these images, knowing some of the facts, I sit here and think history will look back at a time when thousands of people needed help—and the world did nothing.

How can I say I stand for human rights, then say we “shouldn’t get involved” when evidence shows a nation is using sarin gas to commit genocide?

But at the end of the day, I still don’t have the answers.  In fact, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to the situation in Syria.

No matter what we do, or don’t do, we’ll be both right and wrong.

Wrong because we’re not the world’s police and it isn’t our responsibility to intervene in the problems of another nation.  Wrong because we’re a nation that’s trillions of dollars in debt and has millions of Americans which desperately need help.

Right because the genocide going on in Syria is horrific and something needs to be done.  Right because we’re a great nation and as such we shouldn’t sit idly by while thousands of innocents are murdered with sarin gas.

One thing I do know is that President Obama’s choice to seek Congressional approval for any sort of military intervention is the right thing to do.

The tragedies going on in Syria have presented not just liberals — but all Americans — a whole host of questions that really have no right or wrong answers.

Because at the end of the day, I really believe that no matter what we do it’ll be both right and wrong for very important and deeply poignant reasons.

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.


Facebook comments