Another war only adds fuel to the fire

Christopher Handloser

During the Arab Spring of 2011, the world witnessed civil wars erupt in Syria. President Bashar Al-Assad and his newly appointed military engaged in bloody conflict with former military officials and aggressive Islamist radicals consisting of none other than… Al-Qaeda. The cumulative death toll now stands at an upward estimated 100,000 victims of this horrific conflict.

Some U.S. officials, namely Secretary of State John Kerry and others, argue that involving ourselves in the Syrian civil wars is yet another way of protecting our nation’s interests.

Opponents of involvement might tell you that we should not take part because there are no U.S. interests at stake. I’m here to tell you that U.S. interests are indeed at stake, and that’s exactly why we shouldn’t get involved.

The most obvious crux is highlighted in a brief historical revisiting. We were deeply saddened as a nation when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001. Our military marched with impunity into Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Pakistan, and then launched drone missile campaigns in Yemen and several other sovereign nations, all in hopes of accomplishing one goal: to eradicate al-Qaida. Now, we are debating as a government and as a people whether to send high value weapons to the Islamic rebel forces in Syria, again, consisting largely of al-Qaida.

The larger implications involve complex foreign relations in the Middle East, encompassing every nation from the U.S. to Russia, though it is the debit of U.S.-Russian diplomacy that will take the nastiest hit.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. has enjoyed near-hegemonic benefits globally. Still today, the US government would love to assert dominance in a unipolar fashion around the world.

However, the elements have now shifted. Russia now offers military bipolarity and along with China, they constitute a growing economic multi-polarity. All this is coming to a head in the powder keg Middle East.

A post-Chernobyl Russia is well aware that fallout from potential nuclear involvement, especially in Iran, would lead to years of radioactive ruins on their southwest borders. They will stop at nothing to avoid this. It is not a fear we share over here, thousands of miles away, and it shows. Make no mistake, Russia’s involvement in Syria is a necessary deterrent to threats on every type of climate on the planet, physical and social.

In addition, if we view Israel as the ally many politicians purport they are, it’s worth contemplating that Iran consistently threatens Israel at the very mention of any sort of Western-driven conflict. Israel boasts they can take care of themselves, but again, it will likely be nuclear and undoubtedly be extremely messy.

I’m quite certain there are many Israelis here in the U.S. that would consider their interests threatened as their families overseas breath in swaths of radiation while eluding various I.E.D.s and dirty bombs.

Moving on, does it fall into our country’s interest to militarily defend presidential bravado, and even worse, to do so hastily and without confirmation? Most disconcerting are all the references to Obama’s 2012 red line comment, basically setting the stage for conflict at the very breath of the words “chemical weapons.” Last week, Kerry brazenly told Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and in turn, his constituency — the U.S. citizens — that he should attend the confidential briefing for confirmation of chemical attacks. Can we, the people, sit in on that?

Worse yet, conflicting reports are coming in from major international news sources, namely Reuters, McClatchy’s, and RT.com, that it was indeed the Islamic rebels that detonated the saran gas responsible for an estimated 1000 deaths. At this time, it is far too unclear who is truly at fault to use that attack as a baseline for military conflict.

Lastly, Russian president Vladimir Putin, usually touted as a de facto opponent of U.S.-brand democracy, has recently made some very good points. Assad was — and still is — advancing in the battle to keep control of his nation. He had no incentive to unleash chemical weapons, being well aware of the ramifications of such an attack. Moreover, the attack took place within territory he controlled, and mainly killed his own supporters. All of this is far too murky, and also leads to a bigger question – why would the international community so critically assess these 1000 deaths, chemically delivered or not, more than the other 99,000 deaths incurred so far?

In conclusion, U.S. interests are at stake when we support terrorists in other nation’s civil wars, when we threaten the livelihood of a major oppositional nation, when we light fuses in our ally’s backyard, and when we use highly politicized motives for intervention based on caliginous details. This is why we should abstain from military intervention in Syria.