Since Thursday night I have been trying to find the answer to one question: how is Syria using chemical weapons against their people a threat to America’s national security?
This was the chief reason president Trump gave for the attack and which others have used to support his decision. (Second to it is that what Assad was doing against his people was evil and we have to act to stop evil where we can. We’ll address that point as well.)
I have listened to the “conservative” talking heads in the media and several of our conservative politicians attempt to explain this, and here I am still trying to find an answer to that question. If I have somehow missed something I’d appreciate someone pointing it out to me, but thus far I am still perplexed by this line of reasoning.
Some have pointed me to an interview Maro Rubio did with Fox News articulating the position. Let’s take a look at the claims the senator made in that interview.
Claim 1: It was legal and had to be done.
Response: As to whether or not it was legal, as Rubio noted in the interview, this is an age-old debate in the senate/congress, with folks like Rubio on one side, and folks like Rand Paul on the other. I’m not a legal expert and can’t speak with any confidence on the matter, but philosophically I find myself agreeing more with the likes of Rand Paul, and foreign policy was my main reason he was my #1 pick of all the candidates we had last year. As to whether or not it had to be done, that depends on the next two points.
Claim 2: What Syria did was in violation of international law and of a UN security council resolution.
Response: This seems to me to be the most valid among the reasons given. If what we’re being told about Assad is true, then he was in violation of international law and of a UN security council resolution. But it seems that while this is true, America is here once again assuming the role of world police.
Claim 3: We have troops in Syria, so this posed a threat to them.
Response: I understand the argument that they could use chemical weapons against our troops but I have been searching in vain to find any reason to suggest that such was likely. Rubio provided no such reasoning, and while there are multiple views out there on why Assad is using chemical weapons, I’ve yet to find any that would suggest he would have used them against US troops. This argument seems to be fear mongering and grasping for justification. I continue to fail to see how this is a national security issue for America.
Rubio went on to say that we need to replace Assad with a Syrian government that is not run by a dictator. This raises another concern I have, as this sounds an awful lot like the sort of rhetoric that was prominent in the Bush administration. I’ve heard many republicans (Sean Hannity for example) admit that much of what we did to overthrow certain leaders in the middle east was a mistake and resulted in the rise of ISIS. Yet here we are doing what seems to me to be much the same thing with much the same reasoning. We always have reasons for actions like this, but I can’t help but think of the lessons of blowback and unintended consequences that history teaches us.
Let’s look now at another justification that has been given by Trump and those supporting his decision. The atrocities committed against many innocent lives by the Syrian leadership are horrific, and many are justifying the attack on the basis that, in the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” While I understand the argument, the way it plays out in reality is always gruesome. I also must ask: what makes this scenario stand out from the thousands upon thousands of other scenarios where wretched atrocities are done and we do nothing?
As I consider the matter, while I can understand and appreciate the other side, I find myself agreeing with great thinkers such as Leo Tolstoy and Martin Luther King Jr.
In his book “The Kingdom of God is Within You” Tolstoy (summary) Tolstoy presents and refutes the most common reasons given for going to war. In 1967, MLK said this:
“The leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.”
The tragedies are horrific and heart-wrenching. We must fight against them. How do we do that?
We fight fire with water. We fight darkness with light. We fight hate with love. We fight war with peace.We fight fire with water. We fight darkness with light. We fight war with peace. Click To Tweet
Jarrod is an INFJ who loves studying and writing about things like philosophy, psychology, theology, conspiracy theories, & all things spiritual, mystical, & supernatural. The creator and curator of INFJ Writers, he lives in Austin, TX with his wife and three kids.