We Need a Strategy in Syria

This Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, shows American troops looking toward the border with Turkey from a small outpost near the town of Manbij, northern Syria.

AP Photo/Susannah George

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This Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, shows American troops looking toward the border with Turkey from a small outpost near the town of Manbij, northern Syria.

‘It’s time to act.’

The Syrian War rages on into its eighth year and yet the United States is still without a real strategy for the dire situation there. While much of the world’s focus fades away with the ever-changing news cycle, the war crimes being committed in Syria are still happening in full force as President Bashar al-Assad continues to murder his people with help from his friends in Russia and Iran. They do not believe the world is watching; they do not fear any retribution; and they have no remorse for their genocide. If we fail to act, their offensive planned for Syria’s Idlib region will be more horrific than anything we’ve seen in this conflict.

Our lack of a strategy in Syria has been a failing practice. The initial attacks already happening in Idlib are just a prelude to the civilian bloodbath that the world will soon witness if Assad once again uses chemical weapons on his own people. We cannot stand idly by and allow this humanitarian crisis to compound further. The peace talks with Turkey, Russia, and Iran have failed.

It’s time to act.

Since World War I, the United States has held that chemical weapons have no place on the battlefield. We have held strong to this principle and it has been core to our American values.

We know that Assad and his ruthless regime have committed countless war crimes and bear responsibility for murdering more than half a million Syrians. We know that Assad has used chemical weapons on several occasions to attack and murder civilians. We know the Russian and Iranian regimes have supported Assad in this genocide, including strikes that account for more than 50,000 dead Syrian children. We have seen Assad and his cronies use food as a weapon in cities like Madaya, Aleppo, and Eastern Ghouta by refusing humanitarian aid deliveries by UN and other organizations. And we have witnessed the targeting and destruction of hospitals across the most ravaged cities in Syria.

Because we know all this, we cannot turn a blind eye and ignore the horrific reality in Syria right now. We cannot isolate ourselves from this crisis. If we fail to act in Syria and fail to inflict punishment over the use of chemical weapons, we will ultimately see the end of the nonproliferation treaty of chemical weapons and open the world to ghastly horrors, perpetual insecurity, and extreme dangers. What happens in Syria, and what happens in the Middle East, has a very real impact on America’s national security and the security of future generations.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the U.S. invade Syria, post up thousands of U.S. troops, and start World War III. But, I am suggesting we take a stand for what is right, what is just, and what is in the best interest of the United States and the freedom-loving people around the world. We need a long-term strategy in Syria that leads to a solution of peace and an end to the ongoing, deadly conflict. This strategy should also include the end of the Assad regime and a place at the table of government for the Syrian people.

To do this, we must maintain a presence in Syria, bolster the de-escalation zones that have already been established, and enforce a no-fly zone in the region. This is vital for the safety of our coalition units, humanitarian aid volunteers, and Syrian citizens who have been forced to flee their homes and communities.

In July, I sent a letter, with support from my colleagues in Congress, urging the White House to develop an official strategy for the U.S. to maintain a strong presence in Syria, implement no-fly zones along the southern and eastern Syrian borders, and ultimately position the United States as the global leader our world needs right now.

The ripple effect of this conflict has led strongmen like Assad and Putin to feel empowered by their horrific actions in Syria going relatively unchecked. The people of Syria feel entirely left behind. And the conflict has created the worst refugee crisis of our time, leaving millions of Syrians displaced throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Right now, our lack of a strategy in Syria is leaving many without hope or faith in the United States or our allies. The people of Syria need to know there is hope and that the world has not left them behind. This humanitarian crisis deserves our attention and our action.

I believe America has a mission to be an example of self-governance in a world drowning in strongmen, cruelty, and chaos—and I believe we have an opportunity to show the people of Syria, and the world, that the American Dream continues. We are still that shining city on a hill, and a beacon of hope for peace and prosperity.

Let’s shine a light on the evil actions of Iran and Russia, and expose with that brightness the torture, inhumane use of chemical weapons, and the bombing of aid convoys and hospitals by the Assad regime. Let’s make our presence known in Syria and let’s push back on these strongmen who target the innocent.

Let’s speak out for the freedom-loving people who so desperately need America’s voice. Let’s shine our light on the oppressive darkness around the world. And let’s save Syria.

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