Daily Meme: Conflict Inches Closer to Home

  • Syria, Syria, Syria. After a week of kvetching and worrying, both domestically and internationally, the White Houseis set to launch a limited military strike in the civil war-torn state, a day after the U.K. Parliament voted down doing the same.
  • President Obama said they hadn't made the final decision about what the U.S. response will be, but that "We're not considering any open-ended commitment. We're not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach."
  • Secretary of State John Kerry released the numbers behind these deliberations, saying there was compelling evidence that the Assad regime had killed 1,429 civilians, including 426 children. "History will judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turn a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction."
  • He also acknowledged the long shadow of our involvement in the Middle East. "We know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war,” Kerry said. “Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.”
  • Before we dig deep into details, let's take a step back. Here's a good primer on the region in case you're still scratching your head about what the heck is going on.
  • It's important to remember the people at the heart of the conflict too. While we craft platitudes and strategies to justify war, millions have been left without homes, and thousands are dead.
  • So, now that the question of whether we will go into Syria seems answered, the question of whether we should remains open. 
  • Noah Feldman at Harvard writes, "The conclusion is painful, but I think also clear. If we can save many lives, we shouldn’t hold back from bombing Syria. But sending a symbolic message isn’t a good enough justification to deepen the precedent of violating international law when we feel like it. Especially when the symbolic message is about respecting that law in the first place."
  • Former president Jimmy Carter released a statement saying, "A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war. It will only harden existing positions and postpone a sorely needed political process to put an end to the catastrophic violence."
  • Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Miller writes, "If President Asad were to absorb the strikes and use chemical weapons again, this would be a significant blow to the United States’ credibility and it would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives. Further escalatory attacks on Syria would result in more international criticism and could entangle the United States in the Syrian internal conflict."

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