Over the past two years, Syria has become a ground of world-wide political conflict. We are bombarded with images of extreme torture and suffering that has only worsened. The U.S. has been sending arms to the Free Syrian Army, but do we really know whose hands these weapons are ultimately falling into? Are we helping the situation, or are we aiding the perpetuation of chaos in the Middle East? The question has recently become: Should the U.S. government intervene on the civil war with military action?
On Sept. 18 from 6-7:30 PM a presentation on the Syrian war was held in the Walnut room on campus. The presenting panel included Dr. Seif Da’na, professor of sociology and anthropology, and Dr. Elizabeth Brownson, professor of history. Dr. Brownson is an expert on Palestine, gender, and Muslim law, and has recently traveled to Syria. Dr. Da’na writes regular op-eds for Al-Ahram Weekly in Cairo, Egypt, Al-Akhbar in Lebanon, and has also written articles on the Middle East for Al-Jazeera. In addition, he has appeared for interviews on Al-Mayadeen Arab TV, Russia Today TV, and other outlets.
Together, Dr. Da’na and Dr. Brownson examined several questions regarding the outcome of U.S. intervention in the Syrian war including: Does President Obama’s moral argument to intervene in Syria have any legitimacy? Do we have a role to stop violence in other countries or should we respect sovereignty of nations? What would U.S. military strikes accomplish? Dr. Da’na stressed a number of times throughout the presentation, as well as during the discussion immediately following, that it is clear that U.S. intentions behind intervention would “not hold the moral high ground,” and if the U.S. government were to offer military support, it would be “based strictly upon the U.S. political agenda.” If, in fact, the goal was to aid the innocent Syrian people who, as we well know, are suffering tremendously, then the US would have intervened two years ago. The U.S. government’s political rather than moral agenda negates our role to stop violence in other countries, and we should respect the sovereignty of nations. Dr. Brownson concluded that U.S. military strikes would “only worsen the situation in Syria,” causing greater conflict and ultimately jeopardizing the lives of even more Syrian civilians as well as U.S. soldiers.
Above all, we see that innocent people are suffering financially, physically and mentally. Students are unable to attend school. People risk their lives every day when leaving their home to get groceries to feed their families. Homes are being destroyed, leaving families on the streets. These are people who are losing, if they haven’t already lost hope for their futures. So, how can we, as U.S. citizens, help? We can begin by realizing that keeping ourselves well informed of what is happening is of the utmost importance. Dr. Brownson suggests following Al-Jazeera or Al-Monitor to stay current with accurate news sources. She added that we can also “start by urging [our] representatives in Congress to provide more humanitarian aid to civilians in Syria refugees.” If donation is an option, Dr. Brownson recommended donating through International Red Cross, Unicef, or other UN agencies.
Article by Doria DeBartolo