Tension in Syria continues, Americans against intervening

BY KELBY CLARK
Features Editor

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SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NEWS / GETTY IMAGES / UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP
Dozens protest outside of the United Nations against the embattled regimes of Syria and Yemen on May 27, 2011 in New York City.

More than 100,000 people, including more than 9,800 women and children, have died at the hands of Syria’s government since early 2011. Years of ethnic tensions have resulted into a series of protests against Bashar al-Assad during the Arab Spring movement, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and PBS.org. To quell the domestic uprisings, the Assad regime used increasing levels of violence.

Over the past few months, the United States, U.N., NATO and other international coalitions have been monitoring what has become a bloody civil war between the Syrian rebels and their authoritarian government. However, recent details have major world leaders calling for military action against Syria.

Preliminary U.S. intelligence reports have determined that the Syrian government, under the leadership of al-Assad, killed 1,429 people in Damascus on Aug. 21 with the use of chemical weapons, according to PBS.org.

No evidence has been brought forth to the public that proves these allegations against the Syrian government are true, but on Aug. 31, President Barack Obama held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden to announce that he would seek approval from Congress before launching a strike against Syria.

While much of the world is waiting on the United Nations’ weapons inspectors to release their findings from the site of the attack in Damascus, many Americans are questioning the ultimate consequences of attacking Syria, a nation that borders Iraq and is home to about 21 million people.

Chris Nelson, a music recording major at County College of Morris, said he believes the United States military could possibly help alleviate the tension.

“We have a stronger military force,” Nelson said. “I guess we can help.”

However, the American public is in opposition to launching a military strike against Syria. Approximately 56 percent of those surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria, while 19 percent supported action, and 25 percent said they did not know what course of action the United States should take in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Nikki Russo, a CCM business and fashion design major, is in agreement with that 56 percent of people.

“I am against the attack on Syria personally because our country has so many problems of its own,” Russo said.

“We don’t need more problems, as we’re always putting our servicemen in situations that they don’t belong in,” she said. “I simply think we should help their country to get a new president . . . attacking in my eyes just causes wars which never end.”

Dr. Jill Schennum, chairperson of the CCM Department of Anthropology, Sociology, Economics, questions a military attack on Syria.

“Although I am quite glad that Obama agreed to take the case before Congress, he has not agreed to abide by Congress’ decision. It is clear that our constitution requires Congressional assent to a war, and our democracy depends on Congressional voice in this decision,” she said. “Clearly U.S. citizens as well as the wider international community remains skeptical of the evidence that the U.S. cites for the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.”

“It is unclear what bombing Syria will accomplish,” Shennum continued. “Trying to tease out who the variety of forces in the Syrian opposition are, from whence their funding and arms come, what their goals are — and how democratic those are — is highly complicated at this point.”

The Obama Administration has yet to put forth any alternatives to a limited military strike on Syria, and the plan is not clear yet as to how and when they would launch the strike if they pursued it.

Yet, the reality still remains that in the tiny country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, men, women and children continue to die each day, and more—more than 6 million—have lost their homes or fled the country, according to a representative for U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. Can Syrians reach peace without foreign intervention?

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