I would like to preface this with the statement that I am not an expert on anything in particular, least of all foreign policy or world events. In fact, I spelled the word ‘foreign’ so badly wrong that no matter how I tried to alter it, the spell checker could not fix it for me. I think that says all you really need to know about my qualifications to speak on this topic.
That being said, I do pay attention the news.
I saw the pictures when they first started circulating. This happened by accident, I was on Slate.com, which I visit mainly for its advice column; advice columns are a guilty pleasure for me. There was a link at the bottom of ‘Dear Prudence’. I saw the images, eerie photos of dozens of people, mostly children, lying on the ground as if asleep.
Then later the news talked about Obama’s planned strike. A discussion which was interrupted by the immensely more important discussion on twerking. (still haven’t decided if I want to tackle that blog post yet)
While it seemed both weird to me that the strike would be unauthorized, as in according to news sources, (and we all know that they tell the whole story, no?) no one had a say in whether or what kind of action would be taken but Obama; as well as the fact that this planned strike was broadcast, when I assumed that the element of surprise was important in military action. Maybe its not, I really and truly have no place anywhere near the military.
It looks like that strike may not happen. It might happen, but there is a discussion. I am glad. Although I believe that the USA holds a place on the world stage that the use of chemical weapons to kill nearly 1500 people requires a response, I don’t believe that that response should necessitate the killing of more people, and for what? To ‘punish’ Assad? It is not the USA’s place to slap around other countries for breaking the rules.
What is just as disturbing, to me at least, is the reaction I am seeing on facebook and pinterest. Well, the response isn’t overwhelming, obviously. As past events have shown, we as American’s reserve only a limited amount of concern for events that do not affect each of us personally. That doesn’t stop us from partaking in an honored American tradition: using any event possible to bolster our preconceived notions of our country’s leadership and making snide but ill informed quips about elected officials. Short tempers and even shorter memories seem to be the new apple pie. It doesn’t matter that individuals supported/protested former president Bush’s military actions, or the similarities/differences in president Obama’s current decisions, or the presence/absence of evidence of the crimes of the relevant countries leaders.
Those who supported the Iraq war are making cracks at Obama for considering military action in Syria. Those who supported Obama in their dissatisfaction with Bush, are still supporting him now.
What is true across the board, no matter who you support or what cracks you are making, is the subject of said cracks. Aside from twerking, the cracks are about our leaders and their relevant actions. There are more cracks circulating then there is actual concern over those who are dead in Syria. On social media, which seems to be how far too many Americans get their information, there is more dissent than compassion.
But what about those who have died? Those whose deaths have sparked this conversation and outrage in the first place? What about those who are being oppressed, intimidated, abused, imprisoned, raped, tortured and murdered around the world every day? Who is talking about them? About what we can do to prevent people being gassed to death en masse? How can we support those in countries struggling against their own oppressors?
That is the discussion I wish Americans would have.