Be part of the solution for Syria; vote for responsible candidates

Colin Roberts, Copy Editor

There’s this joke in the satire newspaper The Onion about how the son of a soldier gets a parade because he inherits his father’s old patrol route in Afghanistan, the joke being that we’ve been at war for eighteen years.

I don’t like it, but then again, we created the mess. For many, many reasons, we just can’t seem to finish what we started, and we sure as hell aren’t granting any of the Iraqis or Afghans visas to come here.

The collapse of Iraq and Afghanistan are a conflict we started, no matter how badly we want to pass it off to the people who live there, but there is another generation-spanning war going on: the civil war in Syria. I say “civil war,” but is it a civil war if civilians are the ones dying the most?

And they have been dying, going on seven years now. It’s not that the American people don’t care, it’s that they feel helpless.

“What can we do?” they post, watching as heartbreaking photos periodically pop up on their newsfeeds.

But like Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a hand in it. The U.S. has boots on the ground in Syria. Did you know we had boots on the ground in Syria? We also have multiple allies, agendas and hopefully some kind of strategy.

The Russians have boots on the ground, too, and an agenda. Theirs isn’t exactly the same as ours. In fact, you could say it’s completely opposite ours.

I should take a moment to note that when I say “our agenda,” I don’t mean the White House’s agenda. I mean the US military’s agenda, to whom we can only assume the current POTUS has given free reign to do whatever they want. As for the POTUS’s personal strategy for Syria and our troops stationed there, I’m keeping an eye on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia also has a vested interest in the Syrian conflict, as does Iran. Syria has become the staging ground for all the regional powers to play out their feuds via proxy wars. “Wars,” again, is a funny word, considering who’s paying the price.

So you can see we have a problem. Well, we don’t have a problem. The many, many Syrian civilians left in Syria have a problem. All these world powers have their fingers in their country, and former Syrian president Assad has made it pretty clear he’ll do whatever it takes to reclaim his old territory, including dumping illegal chemical weapons from planes.

So what can we do? Our power, as cliché as it sounds, is political.

I’m going to be honest with you. We can’t end the “war” right now. Turkey just threatened to invade northern Syria because of this whole thing with the Kurds, who are very, very important allies to the United States but whom the current president of Turkey wants to ethnically cleanse from the face of the Earth. Russia, Assad, the Free Syrian Army (who aren’t really the FSA anymore), Iran and Saudi Arabia are still pumping money and troops and weapons into their own micro-wars within Syria.

It’s clear we lost countless Syrian lives to idiotic war games, and American leadership had a hand in it. The best we can do now is help the many who remain. But what does that mean?

I know immigration is a touchy subject, but I’m asking us as a nation to step up. We can claim plausible deniability in a lot of what our military does, but only to an extent that they keep those actions classified. We know we’re propping up sides in Syria. We know we have American troops there advising Kurdish fighters. So we’ve already decided America is a part of the problem. Now, let’s be a solution.

Asylum visas for Syrian refugees is a noble action of the country I know America can be. This is their hour of need. It has been for the last seven years. One day, as inconceivable as this may be, America may have an hour of need, a time when our own country is too dangerous or inhospitable to live in. We need to set the example of what it means to help those who cannot help themselves. Especially when we’re participating in the war that created the situation in the first place.

Vote for candidates who take responsibility for the problems America’s foreign policy has created. That would be a good indicator of the candidates’ characters, and it would go a long way in fixing the problems we’re exacerbating. We owe it to the Syrians to take them in, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do. And that’s a principle that could put an end to these never-ending conflicts.

Colin Roberts is a junior English major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].