COLUMN: Understanding Syrian uprising is key ethical point for our generation
While on break, students tend to block out the world in favor of more malaise and relaxing realities. Fortunately for nearly all Americans, the fear of an artillery strike on a hospital, mechanized assaults on suburban neighborhoods and the loss of an entire generation in a family is a distant and abstract notion.
However, this does not and should not abdicate the American public’s conscience from the atrocities taking place in Syria. The millennial generation — those who range in age from 16 to 25 — is by far the most electronically connected in terms of global communication. Now is the time for us to put this vehicle into action.
Last semester, I wrote a column imploring students to take action so we can keep Syria off of a macabre list that includes the likes of Rwanda, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With a death toll in excess of 20,000 and evidence suggesting the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad has committed atrocities amounting to war crimes, the window for the possibility of avoiding mass atrocity crimes has now passed. What remains is the opportunity for swift cessation and resolution. But the current geopolitical climate would suggest that this secondary follow-up objective may fall out of reach as well.
Here is where we must take a stand.
The case for intervention in Syria would be first and foremost humanitarian. In contrast with how the U.S. handled Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, justification for an intervention could be mounted solely on humanitarian grounds, without needing a weapons of mass destruction goose-chase.
Thanks to the proliferation of online tools, such as blogs, YouTube and Twitter, first hand looks at the violence and depravity in Syria are easily accessible.
Those who claim a non-interventionist policy no longer can stand by the sidelines. The U.S. and other allies already have intervened. Now there is only a question of to what extent we will continue to intervene. Non-lethal aid, medical supplies and diplomatic measures are all forms of external intervention into the Syrian crisis.
And to the fiscal conservatives, even if our president seems to you to be a radical socialist, and no matter how bad our own fiscal crisis may seem, we never will face anything like indiscriminate air strikes on civilian targets. To those who say the risk of your grandchild having to pay an extra 5 percent in taxes in 50 years to pay off a national debt means we must not help people half a world away who are truly suffering, remember this: At the very least you can still talk that way about your progenies’ future. Hundreds of families in Syria have lost that ability through the loss of an entire generation.
I said it before: If we remain comatose and act complacent, we will become morally culpable. We still have time to right the course of history. This reinvigorated call for action is not a call for war or invasion, but rather to help the Syrians suffering at the hands of their own brutal government.
You should be outraged and angry at such senseless slaughter and the subsequent lack of committed action. By understanding the daily hell Syrian children are experiencing, you will see how strong the justification is for continued intervention. Your calls should become stronger and more passionate, the more you learn of their suffering.
And if our peaceful intervention tactics fail and the need for direct military intervention becomes a potential reality, the mere fact that steps were taken to understand the issue before the onset of war will make for a more honest and intelligent discussion.
Nolan Kraszkiewicz is a political science and religious studies senior.