After more than a decade of war, Americans are understandably wary of further foreign missions involving more of its gallant troops.
With over $3 trillion spent in prosecuting Operation Iraqi freedom alone, the financial costs of such expeditions, especially in these fiscally challenging times, lend credence to such apprehensions. The Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan together have claimed the lives of more than 6,600 of America’s bravest young men and women. These compelling facts provide the backdrop to the latest debate about intervening in Syria and lending U.S. assistance to rebel forces – or as the Gerald Seymour in us would call them, freedom fighters.
There are three solid reasons for why U.S. military intervention is the right move.
Reason #1: We risk losing the good will that Syria and the Middle East has for our support of the Arab Spring.
As in every debate worth having, Americans are going to have to face up to certain hard and uncomfortable truths. One of these truths is that America cannot afford to ignore Syria, and the systematic and apparent slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents, for much longer. In addition to the growing disdain within the Syrian populace, wondering how many more lives it would take to gain America’s empathy and support, there is also the issue of empowering extremist elements who are now occupying the growing vacuum left by a diminished and retreating Assad military – both undesirable outcomes for America.
Reason #2: Chemical weapons have entered the fray and may cause serious harm to the Syrian people.
With intelligence accounts claiming Assad has moved chemical weapons components, suspicions abound that the regime may be preparing to deploy these weapons in a last ditch desperate move to regain the upper hand in the conflict. Describing the potential use of chemical weapons by Assad as a red line, President Obama has indicated U.S. willingness to intervene in the conflict firing off a debate among war weary Americans. But consistent with its principles and values as a nation, America should intervene in Syria regardless if chemical weapons are used or not – but especially so if the threat exists.
It is without doubt that most Americans value the sanctity of life – whether American or Syrian lives - and it is the high probability of losing American lives in foreign missions that deter most from supporting interventionist wars. But outsourcing such a mission and reducing the financial and human costs to Americans is an approach that would leave most unperturbed – except for those ideologically opposed to interventions in general.
Reason #3: The Syrian rebels are tough and just need our help to quickly end this bloody war.
It is clear that the rag-tag Syrian rebel forces have proven to be a formidable force capable of dealing the Assad regime remarkable defeats in the battle for Syria. What is more remarkable is the fact that they have done so largely with small arms against a regime deploying much heavier weaponry including fighter jets and scud missiles. This presents an opportunity for the United States to deal Assad, and by proxy Iran, a decisively lethal blow all at a relatively low cost.
While the extent of U.S. support for Syrian rebels has so far been limited to “non-lethal” assistance, the time may have come for the U.S. to up the stakes and offer the rebels the hardware necessary to tilt the balance once and for all. Bringing an end to the war in Syria will be the morally desirous thing to do. For U.S. geo-strategic interests, it is also prudent to deny Iran a vital stronghold in the Middle East. The United States has already interfered in this conflict, but for once, an intervention might prove a much more rewarding strategy.