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Syrian conflict threatens to revive US interventionist tendencies

by Allison Caramico

For years, America has been following a trend of escalating international involvement that has cost millions of dollars and thousands of lives. Recently, the United States narrowly avoided involvement in Syria’s ongoing civil war when President Obama proposed a military response to an unlawful chemical attack, allegedly by the Syrian regime on its citizens.

The use of chemical weapons in Syria was an undoubtedly tragic abuse of human rights, but it’s time to end America’s era as world policeman.

    On Aug. 21, rockets containing the deadly chemical sarin were fired in four different areas in Syria and caused the death of more than 1,000 civilians. This action gained much international attention because it violated the Geneva convention, an international agreement that protects civilians and other uninvolved parties during an armed conflict.

Although there is substantial  evidence that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack, Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian president, claims the rebels were the ones responsible.

After the chemical attack in Syria, the U.S. began to prepare for the possibility of military intervention, while legislators debated its benefits.

However, after several weeks of intense negotiating with other countries on the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council, a diplomatic agreement involving the destruction of Syria’s chemical-weapon capacity averted direct U.S. action.

The U.N. passed a resolution on Sep. 27 that stipulates how the weapons will be destroyed. With the consent of Assad, U.N. officials are in Syria demolishing  Syria’s estimated 1,000-ton weapon stockpile. Fortunately, this conflict seems to be ending peacefully, but the American people cannot forget just how close the country came to becoming involved in another foriegn conflict.

Although America was founded on the ideals of democracy and equal rights, it was certainly not founded on the ideas of foreign involvement. In his famous farewell address, George Washington warned America of the evils of “foreign entanglement” after learning from the young country’s involvement in European wars.

At first, the country heeded this warning and managed to stay out of international conflict. Slowly, politicians began to increase involvement, leading to President Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamation that the U.S. should act as a “world policeman.”

Just as it has in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, another intervention in the name of democracy and justice would  only lead to more violence and unrest.

“This would have been a repeat in history and would have caused riots like it did during the Vietnam war,” said sophomore Nadia Racaniello.

If the U.S. had decided to intervene, Syria would have become just another addition to the long list of  foreign conflicts that only succeeded in wasting money and worsening international relations. This particular conflict could have even reignited the U.S. feud with Russia, a much more powerful foe than the unstable government of Syria.

Clearly, the U.S. needs to take a step back and start to focus on its own citizens instead of trying to be a superhero for other nations.

“I think we should focus on our issues…because we have so many economic and political problems in our own country,” said senior Ryan Kalkstein.

If anything can be learned from the country’s recent interventions in the Middle East, it’s that the countries that the U.S. tries to save never want to be rescued. In 2008, only 23 percent of Iraqis approved of the U.S. involvement in their country. Invading where the U.S. is not wanted only propagates the negative image of the country.

“I do think that America is getting too involved in situations around the world in which it doesn’t need to be involved,” said senior Gabriella Rojas.

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