The Socialist’s Journal: Syria 2013

Trevor Brookins

*Last February I posted the column you will find below regarding American action in Syria. It seems that not a lot has changed in this situation except for the body count. In addition last week I argued that politicians have reason to be dishonest and that most people should accept and endorse that from their representative.

In my opinion these two points of view are complimentary. Whatever our government is working on vis-à-vis Syria should be kept as private as possible and if a government official is asked a question they should mislead anyone listening. That has nothing to do with what our ultimate goal should be in Syria – staying out of a commitment as much as possible.

And now the column:

The rubber is hitting the road in Syria. President Obama won the presidency in part because of his campaign plank of ending the war in Iraq – a campaign promise he has followed through on.

But far from being reluctant to use American military forces in foreign affairs, Obama has defied that stereotype for Democratic politicians and also deployed special forces to assassinate Osama bin Laden and to recover American hostages.

So now that the situation in Syria is deteriorating, and more and more civilians seem to be in danger, Obama will soon face the critical decision of whether to begin a military action there. And while there are some positives in sending American troops, ultimately doing so would be a bad idea.

Sending the troops could be said to be the right thing as members of the human race. The essence of this situation is that innocent people are dying. American troops would help to stop, or at the very least slow, the killing of civilians.

Perhaps more importantly is that, in the wake of the failed United Nations Security Council resolution, sending troops would be a signal to the international community that the United States still operates according to its own principles; that the American military is deployed when our President sees fit and not only as part of a joint effort.

There is something to be said for asserting ourselves amongst nations. Particularly because the resolution would have been passed if not for the votes of Russia and China, two countries that clearly have a conflict of interest with regards to Syria. As these two countries are our former main rival and future main rival on the international stage, an assertion of American prerogative in deploying troops would send a message to these countries beyond the fact that we support the Syria people.

Lastly, and most cynically, engaging in a military conflict during an election year would almost certainly boost Obama’s popularity and help him in his efforts to gain re-election.

Upon closer inspection though, two of these pluses are actually negatives. While the United States is not and should not seek to have its interests approved by the United Nations, and its foreign policy goals can be different from the international community, there is no vital American interest at stake in …read more