What others say: Let’s be honest about inaction in Syria

  • Monday, March 3, 2014 5:21pm
  • Opinion

Here’s how President Barack Obama explained his policy in Libya: “In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence.”

Judging by the administration’s tepid response to even ghastlier violence in Syria, this “unique ability” was the critical determinant in Libya — not the moral imperative to prevent more bloodshed.

An international coalition that included the Arab League was in favor of airstrikes in Libya, the rebels were united and it was a relatively low-risk, high-yield engagement. Conversely, Syria has more robust air defenses and its religious makeup — as well as the opposition — is dangerously stratified.

But Syria is more troubling than Libya in every conceivable way. There are more than 8 million internal and external refugees and almost 140,000 people have perished, compared with 1.5 million refugees and 30,000 deaths in Libya.

Beyond the revolting human cost, there are serious strategic concerns. Al-Qaida is becoming more entrenched and intends to use Syria as a base for future operations. The entire region is being destabilized by the worst refugee crisis in recent history. Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by Saudi and Iranian proxies, spurring violence in other parts of the region. Yes, Syria is a more difficult situation, but there’s a lot more to lose.

Obama sounded impressively authoritative when he declared to the American and Libyan people, “As president, I refuse to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” There’s no shortage of excruciating images from Syria, either, but Obama continues to wait. Assad’s chemical weapons may be neutralized, but the regime is happy to go about the business of slaughter with conventional weapons (clever ones, too, such as barrel bombs filled with shrapnel and hot oil).

Blatant rhetorical inconsistency serves as a good warning — never take high-minded presidential reassurances at face value. This goes for “rejecting the forces of tyranny” or “anchoring global security” as well, comments Obama made in his speech last September about chemical weapons in Syria. Yes, the canisters, shells and gas are now secure. The people of Syria and our interests in the Middle East, on the other hand, aren’t. Let’s be honest about it.

— Kansas City Star, Feb. 23

More in Opinion

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Down to the wire: Be prepared before you vote

Remember your voice counts and all votes matter

Soldotna City Council member Justin Ruffridge. (Courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: We must refuse to reward ugly political tactics

With our vote we have to show that extremism and dishonesty do not win the day

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Lisa Murkowski represents everyday Alaskans

While working for Lisa, I witnessed her considerable command of the issues