US caution necessary in Syrian crisis
Once again, another Middle Eastern dictator is being asked to step down, whether it is under the aim of a rifle or under promise of peace. As one of the oldest countries in the world, Syria’s history has often been anything but peaceful. Damascus has been the home of powerful empires, and throughout time the country has traded one violent dictator and great leader for another.
It must be a frightening time for Syrian president Bashar Assad, watching his brothers fall quickly or suffer slowly, knowing that any day could be his last in power. His promise of national dialogue and more political parties were answered with protestors in the streets — and with foreign pressure mounting so heavily, the normal retaliation with violence is no longer an option.
The truth is, even though the promise of political parties sound nice, it won’t matter. The party leaders will likely be figureheads at most, and the Syrian people recognize this. They know that reform, no matter how progressive, doesn’t wipe away blood and old wounds. Criticism has been placed on America’s caution and lack of commitment to the Syrian situation, with some calling for the Obama administration to say definitively that Assad must go. But rushing in head first is not the best option either.
For the administration to just say Assad is out is unwise. And it’s not so easy to tell a man known for doing anything to keep power that he’s out of it. It’s clear nobody wants another Libya where the dictator will promise to fight to the last bullet, and the people will be forced to use guns and not words to decide their countries direction. It is only sensible to use caution with the uncertainty of the Libyan situation.
Support for Syria shouldn’t go much further than keeping pressure on the government, participing in peace talks and controling the flow of weapons and supplies if it comes to it. But not America’s troops, and certainly not alone.
The Syrian people want a democratic government, equal rights and humane treatment. So it’s only natural that Syria takes the lead. It remains Syria’s battle and the task falls to them to win it.
There will be no chance for a more democratic government unless Bashar Assad is removed from office — that much is certain. Assad stated proudly earlier this year that he was in no danger of being overthrown because of his anti-West, anti-Israel policies. President Assad, the Syrian people and the world seem ready to reply to that with a big, “We’ll see.”
For America, Syria and the rest of the Middle East, the world is no longer as small and as isolated as it once used to be.With global economy this, global communication that, it’s still important to know our place, how far our reach can extend, our goals, our roles and how we’re viewed abroad.
Marcus Smith is a creative writing sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].