Jerry Davich: Syria a timely debate on Sept. 11
JERRY DAVICH September 11, 2013 12:04AM
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:13AM
Are we war weary or war leery?
This is the question I ponder today — the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — as our nation’s leaders debate a possible attack on Syria.
Twelve years ago today, radical Islamic terrorists attacked not only the World Trade Center and the Pentagon but, more importantly, everything we hold dear in this country. Our freedoms. Our illusions of safety. And the happy pursuit of America’s true national pastime — catering to ourselves.
Have we since changed our global outlook, our education in world politics and our understanding of foreigners, most recently with Syrians? Or have we become less trusting and more fearful of our own government and its intelligence on foreign threats?
Syria? I defy most Americans to find that country on an unmarked map, let alone map out an intelligent stance with their limited knowledge of this complex issue. Beginning with me.
Remember when we collectively took a crash course in “Iraq 101” soon after we learned our country may go to war there, including its location, leaders’ names and ideologies?
We’re taking similar lessons these days regarding Syria. Where is it? Who’s in charge? Why all the bloodshed? Should we care?
Americans are scrambling to find out more about Syria and its (perceived) evil leader, President Bashar Assad. Chemical attacks against civilians, including children. Up to 100,000 Syrians killed. Millions of refugees. And surely more brutality to come.
Still, that country’s bloody civil war easily melts into the daily blur of killings, violence and turmoil that we casually watch on TV reports from other foreign countries. Egypt, North Korea, Iran, the list goes on.
It’s not that we’re insensitive to such carnage around the world. It’s that we’re indifferent to it, though we refuse to admit it. We remain “touched, yet untouched” as poets and philosophers have said through the centuries. Through it all, our busy lives march on amid the daily abyss of errands, duties and responsibilities.
Heck, more Americans can name Honey Boo Boo’s mother rather than Syria’s president. And that’s OK until this national discussion about true reality TV — the slaughter taking place in Syria — interrupted our cherished prime-time viewing habits.
“This is not the time to be spectators to slaughter,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. On a moral level, he’s correct. But what about on a political level? Or a military level? Or, more to the point, a practical level?
What are the consequences of a missile strike, limited or not, against Syria? Will it lead to our “boots on the ground” in yet another country in the volatile Middle East? Another attack of any kind against our country, in our country? More deaths of U.S. soldiers?
This past Saturday, during the Popcorn Fest parade in downtown Valparaiso, dozens of posters were poignantly paraded showing local military personnel who were killed in combat or overseas this past decade. People stood up to honor the dead heroes and rightly so. But, during an otherwise escapist celebration that day, it served as a solemn reminder about war, military strikes and the ramifications that follow.
Are we prepared for more ramifications? Or can we live with ourselves by conveniently ignoring what’s taking place in Syria and doing nothing about it? I say the latter, considering we do it on a daily basis regarding so many other countries in similar chaos.
On Tuesday night, President Obama publicly addressed the nation (and world) about this escalating global issue in his attempt to seek public and congressional support for military action. Polls show most of us are against a missile launch of any kind. Period.
Obama, Kerry and military supporters for such a strike insist that inaction would be the lesser of the two evils in this situation. Doing nothing would jeopardize U.S. allies in that region while tacitly condoning what’s taking place in Syria, they claim.
Maybe so, but most Americans would prefer we take a “wait and see” attitude while we await the outcome of Russia’s recent proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons to international control. Syria officials have said they would honor the proposal, strictly to avert a U.S. military strike, but I believe it’s merely a stalling tactic.
I also believe that most Americans, including most region residents, have grown tired of being the “knight in shining armor” when it comes to galloping to the aid of another country in distress. Especially when other countries refuse to join the good fight.
Simply put, a U.S. military strike wouldn’t strike much fear into the radical minds of Syria’s leaders, only its civilians. On our home front, such a missile attack would only appease our very American sense of global heroism, moral outrage and religious conscience.
Speaking of which, some Christians believe the potential bombing of Syria’s capital, Damascus, is a sign of biblical prophecy and the Second Coming of Jesus. Apparently, the prophet Isaiah warns believers by stating so in scripture. I kid you not.
Just what we need, yet more religious radicalism adding ancient fuel to this 21st century powder keg.
Again, are we war weary or war leery? I say both, but mostly the latter. Particularly on a fateful anniversary that now serves as ground zero for reflecting on our nation’s actions abroad.
Agree? Disagree? Voice your opinion (a freedom we often take for granted) by calling me, emailing me, or joining the discussion on my Facebook page and blog.
Connect with Jerry via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.