Paul Giorgio: World Cop or World Conscience In Syria?
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Or our we the world’s conscience, seeing the world though a different set of lenses? Are we mindful of history and the lessons it has taught us? Would fewer lives have been lost if we acted sooner when Saddam Hussein used poison gas to massacre Kurdish rebels?
Would there have been fewer casualties if we stopped Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing campaign in Bosnia?
We do know with certainty that fewer people would have gone to concentration camps during the Holocaust had Franklin Roosevelt and our allies stepped forward sooner. That misstep cost upwards of six million lives.
This is the conundrum we as a nation and a people face today when it comes to retaliation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A dubious inheritance
To recap several days ago, it is alleged that Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons and nerve gas against innocents, women and children. Who wasn't moved by those poignant pictures on the news? Children writhing in agony as their bodies went into spasms, their lungs collapsed.
Chemical weapons have been banned by international protocols and treaties for years. UN inspectors have confirmed that gas was used. They did this without assigning a villain in the drama.
America and the world have war fatigue. The first Gulf War was pressed under the first George H.W. Bush and his son began the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraq war was based on the Bush administration's certainty that there were weapons of mass destruction.
So Americans and the world are right when they feel skeptical about another claim.
President Obama, once again, suffers from following the Bush presidency.
But what are we as a nation going to do? Will we pursue retaliation on our own? Will we create a coalition of the unwilling?
Unifying behind a cause
Secretary of State John Kerry, the Obama Administration's point person on this, has built a powerful rationale for why America must act. He began to lay it it out on the Friday of Labor Day Weekend and continued on Sunday talk shows.
Kerry has called for a very limited action, which requires no boots on the ground and no large-scale bombings. What the administration has proposed is to limit the attack to Syria’s delivery system. This includes only military targets, which may have been implicit in carrying out the civilian nerve gas attack. These include Syrian airbases and the command and control systems of the military.
Because of war weariness, President Obama is being forced to seek Congressional approval of any action. Are we facing this crisis as the American nation, or are we facing it as Democrats and Republicans? One would have to look back to the '70s before we found an incident. Whereas on National Security matters, the Congress forced the President to seek approval.
Seeking consultation with Congress does, however, shift the dynamics. It now becomes Congress's responsibility also. If they refuse the President, the blood of innocents is on their hands. If they say yes, they will be united with the President in serving America’s common interest.
Time to act
I believe that the President’s proposal of limited action is right and just and measured. If we do nothing, we embolden Assad. If we do nothing, we have lost the moral leadership on human rights issues. If we do nothing, countless more innocents will die.
I would propose that this is really a human rights issue and not a military issue. However, there is only the military solution. We have drawn a “red line” in the sand. It was Beshar al-Assad who crossed it. Now we must act.
So are we the World’s cop or the World’s conscience?
I suggest that sometimes we are both. And this is that time.
Paul Giorgio is a longtime Democratic Party Activist who has worked on numerous campaigns. He was a Lead Advance Person for President Clinton & Vice President Gore. He was Deputy Director of Special Events for President Clinton’s first Inauguration. He has been elected a delegate to numerous Democratic National Conventions and recently served as one of President Obama’s representatives on the Platform Committee. In 2013 he was chosen as a Presidential Elector. He is the President of Pagio, Inc., publishers of Pulse Magazine, Vitality Magazine and Worcester Medicine.
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