The Issue on The Table

Gabrielle Murray is a guest writer on Blake's Take. She is a political blogger from Brooklyn, New York, and currently studies International Relations. You can follow her at @PrevalentGabe.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence.

It was in 2011, my Freshman year in High school that the word “Syria”, was first spoken to me. The Arab Spring had begun and the Syrian Civil War was still in its first year, but even then in the earliest of its years, chemical weapons were being utilized. At the very beginning of this 7 years running civil war, chemical weapons were being wielded against the civilians in Syria. President Assad’s hands were plenty dirty.

It was in 2012, about a year after the Syrian Civil War had begun that the word genocide was being stated.

It was 2014 that we took more initiative in Syria in the use of drones and humanitarian aid.

It was in 2016, my Senior year in High School that Congress declared Syria as a genocide.

It was in this month of 2018 that President Donald Trump promised a missile strike.

Syria had become important to me. I remember where I was when Congress announced that Syria was classified as a genocide. It had taken far too long for this recognition. It took 4 years for Congress to address the mass killings of Syria’s people. It is now 2018 and it has taken 7 years for our government to address the use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria. It has been 2 years that a declared genocide has been disregarded. Why? In World War II, our moves as a country were strategic, we moved in when we could be the heroes, but we were really quite cowardly. It is often said that it is important for us to know our history, so we can learn not to repeat it.

Action must be taken in Syria and this late in the game, those actions could have serious consequences. What we must remember is that this is a civil war. Any involvement in Syria is going to lead to war. It is a war. It always has been and unfortunately, things in Syria have escalated much further, forcing us now to act and the timing couldn’t be worse. With the election, Trump, supposed Russian involvement in our affairs, Facebook, and the other many affairs here in the United States, it sucks. It does, but that is what responsibility is. We have put our hands into so many middle east states that it seems irresponsible for us now and for the last 7 years to just stand back and watch. When we signed the Declaration of Independence, we held up that candle. We were that beacon of light. We believed and made many other states believe that they had human rights they were entitled to. That all of the states could rise up against their government and create democracy, hell we even kind of hinted at the promise of helping out. We created the UN and their major role is protecting the people of the world and their human rights. Bringing countries together and solving problems. I am all about communication. That is definitely the first step, but even as teenagers on a security council at a Model UN meet in high school, we knew that action had to be taken. We also knew that it needed to be taken immediately.

There was a day during class that my professor made all of us go out into the hall, and what seemed like a pretty childish game, became engraved in mind. We were discussing several different wars in our class and he wanted us to understand the anticipation of other countries. We would all face one another and basically lunge at each other, but you wanted to be first, if you were first you were fine if you weren’t first, you died. You acted too late. The thing was if at all possible you didn’t really want to lunge and it was only when the other person started to move, you felt you had to, and that’s pretty close to the reality of politics. Because if we all just wanted to be first and lunged recklessly, the world would be utter chaos.  We were told that through this simple movement, through a simple action by another state, BOOM, we were at war. Whether by our own actions or through our commitment to other states. I do not believe that any country genuinely wants to go to war, it exhausts so many resources, but it is that anticipation. Look at how much money we put into warfare. We are gearing up and so is every other state. It is the anticipation. All the states are facing one another and we don’t really want to lunge, but if we have to we are ready and that pause, that wait, it is completely terrifying. So that is where we are right now in the Syrian crisis. Russia, Assad, and the U.S. (hopefully our allies as well) are standing across each other in the hallway and if you learned anything from above, those missiles Trump promises to send, they are anticipating it. Those missiles, that is the lunge. This is happening. They will lunge back. But you want to be first.

What the U.S. would be doing by sending missiles into Syria is essentially breaching the sovereignty of Assad. Russia has stood by and supported Assad through the entire civil war and has basically made it known that hey, if you mess with Assad, you are synonymously messing with me. It’s a spoken agreement among all the states that basically, you respect my sovereignty and we will be good. I believe that the United States has been trying to do that. Let Syria play out on its own and try to prevent war. I can respect that because war is something we should be cautious about. Unfortunately, when Assad started mass killing his people, we had a duty to intervene. What is most important here is the sovereignty of the people. They don’t want this any more than we do, but children walk to school in bomb filled streets. Buildings are completely demolished. Some children live with strangers because their parents died. Half the time the children in Syria can’t go to school. They are a generation growing up in this war and soon it may be all they know. The anger and sadness they feel will follow them through their lives. We have ignored and swept Syria under the rug for too long. Generational poverty can be applied here. Even if we got involved, the years of reconstruction of this country are going to be longer than the war itself. The generation who will lead this country will have very little education. What I am expressing is that Syria is a long-term commitment. I want to support the lunge. I want change in Syria, but we can’t do that if we are not fully committed and we can’t send a missile strike when the re-election is so soon, any progress we make will be deterred. That is not fair to Syria and its people. We cannot repeat Iraq. We cannot bring a snowman to Palestine. We cannot repeat our mistakes. Sadly it is going to happen whether we are cautious or not, but that puts us, as the people, in a very important role. We need to keep Syria relevant. We need to push for the change. No matter your political affiliation, or political views. Whether you believe we should focus on the problems at home or are more progressive. Trump has promised the missile strike and that is going to affect all of us and the harder we push for the change, the sooner Americans and Syrians can recover.

Follow Gabrielle Murray on Twitter at @PrevalentGabe and check out her blog Put The Candle Back.

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