The Daily Gamecock

Congress mustn't worry about Syrian affairs

Bipartisan support for military intervention unwise and unseemly

Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have joined together with Republicans like Sen. John McCain and South Carolina’s own Sen. Lindsey Graham to push U.S. intervention in Syria.

While U.S. intervention would have originally only been in the form of monetary aid and military equipment, leaders’ wish list has recently grown to include missile strikes and possibly even an invasion.

For now, officials are planning to launch missiles into the country to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons that killed 1,400 people.

But the possibility of a full-on engagement with Syria is concerning for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we tried the whole “invade them and kill all the terrorists” thing for about a decade in Iraq and are still trying it to this day in Afghanistan. Have we learned nothing from those mistakes?

The wars have cost more than a trillion dollars and thousands of American lives with little effect. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan are particularly stable, and both are still home to thousands of terrorists. As a nation, we are only now starting to disengage from those conflicts. Do we really want to saddle ourselves with another one?

Secondly, which group of terrorists would we target, and which would we aid? On the one hand, you’ve got Assad and the government of Syria, which has been accused of using nerve gas against its own people. That lovely fellow has partnered with a group called Hamas, which is most famous for flinging the occasional missile at Israeli malls, schools, libraries and just about anywhere else they think they can kill a bunch of kids at one time.

On the other side you have a conglomeration of rebel groups. The only household name from that list is al-Qaida, which you may remember as the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Other lesser-known highlights from the rebel alliance include the “National Democratic Party,” made up mostly of Communist exiles from various countries; the “Syrian Islamic Front,” whose goal is to replace the current Syrian government with a totalitarian Islamic state that would make Iran blush; and finally an unidentified group including a cannibal who was filmed earlier this year eating a fallen government soldier’s organ.

Thirdly, if someone is going to go ahead and ignore my first two objections and attempt to work with terrorists to kill terrorists using methods that have been proven to be completely ineffective but very costly, why does America always have to be the country that does these things?

Proponents of intervention claim that America has a moral imperative to help the Syrian people who can’t help themselves.

I’d be willing to hear arguments that each individual American, as someone who is fortunate enough to have freedom and safety, has a duty to try to procure those benefits for others. However, the U.S. military is sworn to “protect the Constitution against all enemies,” not to protect Syrians against theirs.

Our military is meant only for national defense, and the Syrian government has not shown that they would be able to attack the U.S. nor that they even have any interest in doing so.

Apparently I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand why the U.S. is trying to get involved in the first place. Support for U.S. intervention in Syria (25 percent approval in an Aug. 19-23 poll) is lower than for lawyers (29 percent in 2011) and the Internal Revenue Service (40 percent in 2009).

When the American people want something to get done and cry for unity, the Democrats and Republicans can’t even seem to speak the same language. But, in typical bureaucratic fashion, now that the people have said that we definitely don’t want to get involved in Syria, the two parties have managed to put aside their differences and come together to make sure that we get in there as soon as possible.

Prior to the 2008 election, McCain and the Republicans urged Americans to stand strong in the War on Terror—that al-Qaida was an enemy that we must defeat at any cost. In that same election, Obama pushed for withdrawal from our Middle Eastern wars, reminding Americans of the true cost of these wars and questioning exactly how they made America safer.

Now, McCain supports the rebels, and Obama dismisses questions about how Syria in any way relates to our national security.

If they want to make a difference in Syria, I respect their right to donate their private funds to the rebels, or even to enlist to join the rebels’ ranks. However, I reject Congress’s right to spend my taxes, or even my life, warring against a country that has not threatened us in any way.