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Voice of the People

Sep. 05, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

U.S. has a moral responsibility to intervene in Syria

On Aug. 21, a number of eastern suburbs of Damascus, the capital of Syria, were bombarded by rockets containing a chemical agent. Over 1,400 were killed, nearly a third of the victims children, and many more were injured. The use of such weapons of mass destruction have been regulated since the peace treaty which ended World War I back in 1919.

President Obama is debating a military retaliation against the Syrian regime, which has violated all international norms regarding the use of such weapons. Our country is divided on the question, as is the international community.

However, we have a moral responsibility, partly because we are a rich and powerful country, and partly because we have certain moral values which define us as a nation.

Our record is mixed. We failed to help end the genocide in Europe in the 1930s and early 1940s; in Cambodia in the mid-1970s; in Rwanda in 1994, for example. But we did intervene, under President Clinton, in Kosovo in 1998.

Today's debate is clouded by President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003, an intervention based on faulty intelligence (e.g., weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda, neither of which were true), more driven by his cronies in office and his desire to avenge his father's failures. The result were two wars with great loss of lives for our soldiers, and even more injuries, and a drain on our treasury.

Bush poisoned the well of public and international opinion when it comes to reacting to atrocities. In this present case, it is real, documented, and the perpetrators should be punished. Bashar al-Assad is now in the same company as Adolph Hitler, Pol Pot, and the MRND in Rwanda.

Nicholas Freidin

Huntington

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