The escalating civil war in Syria has seen a parallel civil war across mass media amongst the progressive caucus. Cries of "not another Iraq!" join with alternating shouts of "freedom and democracy for all!" The politicking not withstanding, this is certainly an international issue that has proven downright divisive for us here on the Left.
For me, having been too young to vote against Dubya during the Iraq fiasco, the conflict in Syria rings with a tune of frustrated familiarity. Chemical weapons of mass destruction. Brutal Middle-Eastern dictator. Unspecified involvement. Missiles. Bombs. Etc and so on.
But it also reminds me of the moral obligation I naively learned at that same time reading, funny enough, comic books. "With great power comes great responsibility." A motto seemingly built for a 16 year-old with superhero fantasies. And, apparently, the President of the United States of America.
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The conflict I have seen across the webs of cyberspace among the Left has been essentially that of radicals versus realists. Straw man? Perhaps, but I have seen those against involvement in Syria cry havoc. I have seen Obama referred to as Hitler, as another Bush, as a tool for the military-industrial-complex. I have seen many decry our involvement as only more war profiteering, greed, and more besides. Many say this is simply another Iraq; another conflict without end, against an enemy of our own making, numberless, ambiguous. An unsustainable war. They call Obama a liar. They call the entire situation a no win. They say it isn't our fight.
And who is saying these things? A strangely-knit coalition of people like Anonymous, MoveOn.org, CREDO, and a vast number of individuals who are so far to the Left, they actually think Obama is as bad as Bush! The hyperbole would be hilarious if it weren't coming from people who should know better.
But, more importantly, the hyperbole would be hilarious if innocent people, especially children, weren't being systematically murdered by the Assad government.
That's why I frame this debate as such: radicals versus realists. I, like most of the country, am tired of war, tired of conflict after conflict in a war-torn region of the world that is too often ruled by warlords and demagogues. But does my exhaustion abdicate my moral conscience? Can we honestly ignore the use of chemical weapons on a civilian population? Do we no longer care about the rest of the world after decades of pretending to be its leader? Are we so ignorant as to think that isolationism is a good idea? That it's not our problem?
On other hand... different fingers. Are we so arrogant as to think our interference is warranted or even wanted? Are we so stupidly, smugly superior as to think we can flout the rest of the world's sovereignty or laws in order to mete out our own version of justice? Is another endless conflict really worth it when the outcome is either a brutal dictator or a rebellion of fanatics who hate us? Why do we have such money for war all of a sudden but none for education, healthcare, or even a functioning government bureaucracy?
These questions paralyze me with indecision. Anyone with half a brain knows there is no simple answer, no easy solution. We cannot, as human beings, stand by while thousands are murdered by weapons the world as deemed so gruesome that they cannot be used even in war.
The last time we did that, six million of my fellow Jews died, along with five million assorted others.
But our involvement would serve no purpose other than to inflame, entangle, and derail. We cannot save this country; both sides hate us. And we cannot guarantee the safety of those we would wish to protect.
So why act? Why lob a few cruise missiles? To deter future dictators from using chemical weapons? To say, "we don't approve of this, so shut it down before we get angry!" ??? I don't know. I really don't.
I wish someone could tell me what we should do. Not nothing. Never nothing. Doing nothing is an illusion. Cowardly. A surrender of agency that we have no right to anymore, not after so many decades of capriciously deciding who deserves democracy and who doesn't.
But I digress... I am disappointed by the radical Left, my compatriots. They have surrendered their reason and sanity to an ideology rather than to the reality. This isn't Iraq. This is Syria. This isn't Bush. This is Obama. Different actors, different players, a different time. It's so much easier to just pretend every intervention is an evil money-making scheme. It's easy to pretend that any war by the government is built on lies. But the facts are being declassified almost as fast as they're coming in. The POTUS, VPOTUS, and indeed, our entire government is FOR ONCE trying to do the right thing by instigating our involvement rather than through unilateral action over our objections.
I don't know if we will do any good in Syria, but if fear gives us pause then maybe we've missed the point of the lessons I learned from Spiderman and Stan Lee.
And yes, I know it's so easy for me to wrangle over this from the comfort of my home, rather than in some Damascus neighborhood or Marine Corps Humvee. But I delegated these choices to my representatives with my vote. I empowered them to lead me. I may question their judgment, but to say I don't know what to do and then hide is bullshit. People are dying.
I know, people die every day; and far more die every day from far more preventable circumstances than this conflict. Where is my internal struggle there? Where is my compassion for them? I have no answer. I am not perfect. I am not all knowing or all seeing or all anything. I do not have the compassion to care for every senseless death or the wisdom even to know them. But I see this one. I care about this one. That means something to me.
Tikkun Olam, right? Some little lights of my own, but together they make a flame of hope. Or so I was taught. So I believe.
Ultimately, this diary is nothing but a rambling, a ranting, a raving. It's not meant to change minds or move hearts. It's not supposed to draw ire or incite anger. It's not meant to be all-encompassing. It's just a feeling, a powerful feeling, that too many people are ignoring the forest for the trees and vice versa.
Actually, it's a feeling that too many people, who should know better, are throwing their hands up in forced apathy. As if mass murder were comparable to a homeless man with an empty coffee cup on the sidewalk. Just something -- no, SOMEONE -- you could walk away from.