The rulers of a little country named Syria made a big
mistake. And now they must be punished. But whose
job is it to administer discipline to a nation’s inhumane
On August 21, the Syrian government, led by President
Bashar al-Assad killed its own citizens via chemical
agents. United States Secretary of State John Kerry
reported that the assault killed 1,429 civilians in the
suburbs of Damascus.
With more than two weeks elapsed since the attack,
the focus has shifted from Syria’s action to the rest of the
world’s anticipated reaction. After a Parliament vote this
week, Britain has decided against intervening in Syria.
France is continuing to debate its options, but only
requires French President Francois Hollande’s approval.
And since no other Western ally is relevant in terms
of military potential, the world is waiting on America’s
Sure, America possesses the strongest military in the
world. Sure, Syria is aligned with Russia and Iran, the two
greatest opponents of the United States government. Sure,
President Obama previously declared a zero-tolerance
policy against chemical warfare. Sure, Syria blatantly
disregarded America’s warning. Sure, this is a serious
problem. But when did it become America’s job to resolve
There must be a line drawn between ability and
responsibility. Just because America has the ability to
overpower any nation by military force does not mean
it has the responsibility to do so, especially alone. But
time and time again, when the allies go AWOL, the United
States finds itself in the following recurring scenario.
If America decides not to act, then the country is
portrayed as surrendering to a ruthless dictator and
seemingly approving the deaths of innocent men, women
and children. If America does intervene, then it risks
deteriorating economic growth and most importantly,
lives of its own men and women. If France and Britain
do not act against Syria, it matters little because this was
always about America anyway.
America’s response plan, or lack thereof, will be
revealed next week. President Obama has decided to
respect Congress’ exclusive right to declare war rather
than bypassing the Legislative Branch as President Harry
S. Truman did during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Maybe Congress should approve of military strike and
send a message to Syria and the rest of the world that
government execution of innocent citizens will not be
Or maybe Congress should reject intervention and
send a message to the Britains and Frances of the world
that America is a member of the international community,
not the enforcer of international law. That is the United
Nation’s duty. And regarding crimes against humanity,
there’s a law for that.
The third pillar of the United Nation’s responsibility
to protect mandate states, “If a State is manifestly failing
to protect its populations, the international community
must be prepared to take collective action to protect
populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United
Emphasis should be placed on the word collective.
International intervention is supposed to be a team sport,
and while the United States may be the best player on the
court they cannot succeed alone.
When a dangerous government contemplates domestic
crime against humanity, they know the United States will
be pressured to respond. But sometimes that pressure
serves as leverage for the criminal rather than a deterrent
On the other hand, if countries are united and prepared
to respond collectively, national losses are minimized and
dictators stand no chance. Terrible injustices have been
done. Now it’s time for the world to make it right.