Monday, May 6, 2013

Israel Helps Syrian Rebels; We Do Nothing

Note: Some of the photos in this post may disturb you. At least I hope they do.

Israel is now smack in the middle of the Syrian civil war, according to NBC Nightly News.

The Syrian rebels who are fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime just received a boost from Israel, Syria’s decades-old foe, in the form of two days of air strikes on Damascus during which more than a dozen targets were hit. (According to NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel, Israel’s main target was a shipment of Iranian-made missiles intended for Hezbollah, the militant group that operates just over Israel’s northern border in Lebanon.)

I’m certainly not Israel’s Number One Fan but it’s nice to see the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) helping the oppressed instead of helping to oppress. All my own country has done, apparently, is impose sanctions in hopes that al-Assad’s government would stop slaughtering his own people. (I wrote about Syria before; see “Hello, My Name is Hamza al-Khateeb,” March 4, 2013).

I’ve run across a number of extremely disturbing images of dead children in Facebook in the last few days. (Just where are all these cute kitten photos that I hear so much about anyway?) I can’t look at these photos without thinking, “Holy sh*t! Surely my fellow Americans want the good ol’ US of A to do something about this!” Unfortunately, I’m wrong. Sixty-two percent of Americans say the United States “has no responsibility to do anything about the fighting in Syria between government forces and anti-government groups,” according to the New York Times. And President Obama – who, as the New Yorker points out, has basically punted on the trickiest foreign policy issues like Iran, Israel-Palestine and Guantanamo Bay – has stated that the crisis in Syria is “not simply for the United States but for the international community” to handle.

Isn’t that what kept us from doing anything about Hitler’s ovens until Germany’s ally, Japan, attacked Pearl Harbor?

I also read that Obama won’t arm the rebels because he’s afraid the weapons might end up in the hands of al-Qaeda and/or its sympathizers. Clearly I’m no foreign policy expert but I assume we have other options besides dropping a bunch of HK416 assault rifles out of military planes with our fingers crossed.

Strangely, I find myself in agreement with Senator John “Maverick” McCain (R-AZ), who wants more forceful U.S. support of the Syrian rebels. (I’m pretending he wasn’t the clown who foisted Sarah “I’m a Greedy, Pandering, Shallow Idiot” Palin on the world.) I’m not a war hawk – I can’t count how many anti-war pieces I’ve posted here and my opposition to our criminal follies in Iraq and Afghanistan couldn’t have been stronger – and I’m uncomfortable advocating that we spend money we don’t have and lives we can’t afford to lose on military action 6,000 miles away. But I’m more uncomfortable knowing that Syrian mothers and fathers are burying their babies and waiting for help that’s not coming.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since violence broke out two years ago. Maybe military intervention isn’t the answer. But we ought to do something besides imposing sanctions that hurt civilians more than politicians. While Israel is choosing the rebels over al-Assad, Americans are choosing Nicki Minaj over Mariah Carey on American Idol.

How sad is that?

Click here to read “At least 62 people killed and hundreds flee killings in Syrian town of Banias,” May 5, 2013.

Aisha, Sarah and Halima, all slaughtered in Al-Bayda

Sources: New York Times, NBC Nightly News, RTÉ News, CNN, New Yorker.

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