Syria: Who’s responsible?

This Dec. 24, 2015 file photo provided by Save the Children, a man walks with a pair of children in hand hand through the rubble in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. (Save the Children via AP, File)

For the first time since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the United States took direct action against the Assad regime by way of a calculated military strike on April 6. President Trump ordered the military to launch 59 missiles at the airbase that launched the deadly chemical attack that occurred on Tuesday, April 4.

Trump’s decision to engage in a military strike came as a surprise to many individuals, especially with the comments he has repeatedly made regarding the Syrian civil war and refugees.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left, and Gen. Joseph Votel, listen to questions during a news conference at the Pentagon, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Mattis said the campaign against the Islamic State group is still the main focus of the U.S. in Syria and remains on track. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Although I did not vote for Trump in the 2016 election, and have not been in support of many of the executive orders signed since his inauguration, I cannot say that I was upset with his decision to take action in Syria. In the six-year civil war, upwards of 470,000 Syrians have been killed. This is a humanitarian crisis like no other, and the chemical attacks that occurred earlier this month were barbaric and inhumane.

Although upset that the president did not go through Congress before authorizing this strike, I believe this was a necessary move in response to the nauseating attack on human life that occurred.

I was surprised at the number of friends and family members that took to social media to condemn Trump’s decision. People complained about the finances of the attack- saying we could afford to send missiles to Syria but not fix our broken healthcare system. People said we shouldn’t have gotten involved, period; that this action will only serve to increase tensions between the United States and countries in the Middle East.

To all those that complained about the president’s military strike, I ask a simple question: who’s responsible for Syria?  

Not just Syria, but who is responsible when there are atrocious crimes against humanity that play out on the world’s stage? While we may play a part in more damages to come, is it better to sit back and watch as people destroy themselves?

More often than not, nations in which crimes against humanity occur are nations that cannot help themselves. Governments have been shattered, tyrannical, unstable regimes are in place and the civilians are caught in the crossfire. Situations like the Syrian civil war will never resolve themselves. If developed nations with ample resources, like the United States among others, decide that not getting involved is the “name of the game,” then who is supposed to step in?

Hopefuls will point toward the United Nations (U.N.); they will say that this body was created for exactly this reason: to resolve international disputes and humanitarian conflicts. To those people, I say think again.

The U.N. may be the largest international organization, but is all-but completely useless when it comes to international disputes. Nothing decided upon by the U.N. is enforceable, unless it comes out of the Security Council, and even those measures aren’t always enforced. While the U.N. is a great place for nations to come together and work on diplomacy, nothing can or will happen unless individual nations are ready and willing to take action. The hands-off, isolationist approach that many developed nations have taken has only served to hurt the process and make organizations like the U.N. more useless than before.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, pro-government protesters hold a portrait of President Bashar Assad and a placard that reads, "Down with everyone who cooperated and supported the American aggression," during a protest in front of the the United Nations building, in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, April 11, 2017.  (SANA via AP)

It is in my opinion that crises like the Syrian civil war are everybody’s problem. Globalization has made it so that everyone in every corner of the earth is aware when people are attacked, when bombs are dropped and when atrocities, like the chemical attack in Syria, occur. It is thus the world’s responsibility to get involved. Nobody can argue that they aren’t aware of what’s going on-the news is relentless and consistently updated.

Being a bystander cannot be allowed. Being a bystander to a situation like the one in Syria can be associated with being as terrible as committing the crime itself. If we have the means and the resources to help, we need to be doing everything in our power to assist the situation. Although  Trump made this decision without the backing of Congress, I am proud to say that my president saw this disgusting attack and decided that six years of silence had to end.

It is easy to call Trump a hypocrite for changing his stance on the Assad regime and involvement in the Middle East, and it’s very difficult to commend a person that previously made statements that were vehemently opposed to helping the Syrian situation. However, it is childish to pretend that Trump’s decision to get involved in Syria is a distasteful one. Regardless of his true intentions or the possible consequences, let us be proud that the leader of our nation decided to take some measure of responsibility for a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.


Gulrukh Haroon is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at gulrukh.haroon@uconn.edu.