The Norman Transcript

September 10, 2013

Between bombing, bailing: Case for humanitarian aid


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The allegation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime in Syria seems to be true.

This action crosses the Obama administration’s self-declared red-line, and war-ready senators such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate military action.

Yet U.S. military action seems extremely ill-considered. Here are some reasons why:

The law of unintended consequences argues against our blundering around a part of the world whose cultures we do not understand and languages we do not speak. We ousted Saddam and wound up enhancing Iran as a regional superpower. We are stuck in Afghanistan.

You don’t have to be a chess master to see how easily the move after an American attack could be a hard one.

If Syria bombs Israel and Israel retaliates, what next? If a suicide bomber damages one of our ships, what next then? How will our response to the many other unanticipated possibilities serve America’s interests?

We owe nothing to the Syrian government — they have been enemies to the U.S. and to our regional allies — Jordanian, Turkish and Israeli.

Who should be responsible for the departure of Assad? In a just world, the governments of Russia and China that armed this regime.

Too bad “if you break it, you own it” is not part of international law.

But we also owe no allegiance to the insurgents — a hodgepodge of Islamists, army defectors and angry Sunnis. Our allies? I doubt it: They are far more likely enemies of America and the West.

The Saudis can send an army or an air force if they’d like — they certainly have enough money and military hardware.

What do we owe the refugees fleeing to Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon?

On humanitarian grounds alone, our best efforts. Little children are never guilty, and minorities (ethnic or religious or racial) never deserve to be killed.

So let us send food, medical supplies and clothing.

Let us be more generous in admitting political refugees.

Back in the spring, The New York Times (April 28, 2013) ran an essay, “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy.” I see no dilemma. Send blankets, send K rations, but don’t send American soldiers — and don’t drop bombs.

Alan Levenson

Norman