Letter to the Editor: America’s Options in Syria

Calvin Carstensen

Like just about everyone else who has access to what’s going on in the world, I too have been following the issue of what to do about the current crisis in Syria. My guess is that, with all of the best of intentions at the time he made his statement about the “red line” that had better not be crossed, our President probably never considered that the Syrian military would ever dare to be so defiant as to cross that line. But they have, and our war-weary nation is not ready to stand with our President in support of any level of response strike on America’s part. So, what are America’s options now?

First, let’s pause for a “reality check”:

American forces haven’t struck yet, and time has marched on since the poison gas event that seems to have tipped the scales of proof with regard to Syria’s guilt. It’s a safe bet that the Congress is going to stall and talk this thing to death! The Syrian military and political leadership have already had ample time to prepare for any strike anywhere and, for sure, they are ready. There would be no surprise to compare to what happened when Truman ordered the A-bomb strikes in Japan, which triggered an immediate surrender in WWII. Also for sure is that, regardless of what America might do, we there would be claims (some true, some fabricated) of innocent lives lost aka “collateral damage.”

Right now, in place of flashing our teeth, I’d rather see America show its passion and compassion in response to the evolved crisis and, at the same time, invite the world to join with us in what we might do instead of asking for support for a military strike that is bound to be useless. The death toll of the civil war in Syria is already staggering. But what about the miserable survivors who have made their way out of the carnage as well as those still living day-by-day in shambled homes in the midst of it? Hundreds of thousands of wounded, orphaned, widowed, etc. are now in camps in bordering countries without resources to do much for them. Let’s not be so naive to think that these places are locations of peace and mercy for the oppressed there. Not at all. The environment in places like war-torn enclaves and refugee camps is one of hunger, misery, and violence brought on by extreme desperation. What those folks are facing right now is a true, uninvited Hell on Earth. They need help and a lot of it.

So, that’s what I propose now … that we (and the rest of the world willing to join us) do what we can for these survivors. This would be unexpected and unprecedented and more likely to create a more positive impression throughout our nation and abroad than anything I have heard so far about what America might do in response to the Syrian crisis.

Calvin Carstensen is a continuously enrolled senior guest auditor and

Kent State student since January 2000.