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Thursday, September 12, 2013
Sitting in my dining room on a cool September morning, sipping my coffee, reading the newspaper in calm safety, I am thinking and reading about Syria.
I have followed the developments in Syria for years now, and was very hopeful that the initial uprising against President Bashar Assad would be quick and successful.
However, even as it dragged on and became convoluted, with both sides making outside alliances, I was still sure that it wasn’t a U.S. problem. Our only role as Americans was to watch and wait.
Then as reports of chemical weapons use by both sides began filtering out of Syria, I knew the situation would worsen for the whole world.
At first light, I was sure that we still had no business in Syria. I am not an isolationist, but was still unconvinced it was our place to step in.
Then I read Saturday’s paper and the article “Obama has tough sell in House.” It quotes President Obama as he draws references to World War II, Kosovo and Rwanda. His quote made me think of when I still taught world history to ninth-graders.
As my former students learned of these conflicts and how the U.S. was either late in joining or stayed out completely, they were always confused. They constantly wanted to know, “Why didn’t we do more,” or “Why didn’t we step in?” It was very hard to explain how popular public opinion at those times prevented politicians from doing what was right.
I also explained that hind-sight is 20/20. I was further reminded of showing the movie “Hotel Rwanda” and teaching the concept of genocide.
All these memories made me re-evaluate the current war in Syria and rethink my conviction from earlier of not interfering in Syria. As I watched President Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday night, I felt a further conviction that chemical weapon use cannot be tolerated in the world.
I am heartened that a diplomatic avenue is being pursued and hopeful it will be successful. I am anxious to see what the U.N. report will reveal regarding chemical weapon use. I urge all Americans and politicians to keep an open mind regarding all options available to us, whether diplomacy or military action.
I don’t want to add Syria to the list of terrible atrocities I will teach in the future, and try to explain why we let so many innocents die such an inhumane death.
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