Thursday, September 5, 2013

We Need To Ask These Questions

Charles Blow in the New York Times on Syria and trust.

People are questioning everything — as they should. Are we absolutely sure of the evidence? Are there no options other than military options? Can we be guaranteed that we won’t face retaliation and that we won’t be drawn into a protracted engagement? Will bombing ease the refugee crisis or exacerbate it? Is this really about sending a message to Syria about its use of chemical weapons, or is Syria just a proxy, a small state on which we can make a big statement, a way for us to send a signal to others that our word is absolute? Is this an act of humanitarianism or militarism?

And what do we hope to accomplish? The president has said that he’s not interested in regime change with this action, and many fear that deposing Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, at this moment could cause more problems than it would solve. We are wary of terrorist elements within the opposition who would love to get their hands on Syria’s weapons. In this community of thought, the Syrian civil war is a war among demons with few angels.

And yet, Syria’s civilians still suffer. More than 100,000 are dead, seven million are displaced (that’s a third of the country’s population), including two million refugees.

Something should be done, but what? And why must we do it? This is not an easy issue, but committing this country to military action never should be. President Obama is not President Bush and Iraq isn’t Syria, but trust is trust, and when certitude melts into uncertainty, it is hard to reshape.

If the first casualty of war is the truth, the second is trust.