When Iran tells you to listen to your people, you know there’s a problem with civil unrest in your country. In the case of Syria, Iran’s foreign minister recently suggested Syria actually listen to its people’s protests. Currently, the Syrian government is using violence to quench protests inspired by the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. According to the United Nations, more than 2,200 people have already been killed by the Syrian government.
With new situations like the one in Syria appearing literally every month, the world’s eye has been trained on the “Arab Spring” for far longer than a season or two. The potential for democracy and worldwide change in the region warrants the involvement of the most powerful democracy of all: the United States of America. Though still hurting from continuing and “past” wars such as Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. stands in a position today to create change. By providing international leadership and military support to potential rebels in unstable countries whose people are vying for democracy, America can turn the stalled tides of democracy in the Middle East.
Turn again to the most active country in terms of discontent, the country of Syria. Despite multiple calls for his resignation, President Bashar Assad has allowed his government to continue violating the rights of its citizens again and again. Armed militias under the protection of the government have been raiding houses and killing demonstrators in an attempt to instill terror in the general populace. They aim to silence the protestors through the factor of fear. And yet despite the constant fear of raiding, many still protest against the rule of the Assad regime for democracy. It is this spirit that connects these people of the Arab Spring to American values, and this spirit that gives America a reason to help them.
Yet with America still aching from the continued stress of drawn out wars in none other than the Middle East, critics are quick to disagree with American involvement in Syria, citing the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan as conflicts too expensive and too long. The example of Libya, however, counteracts these criticisms. In Libya, the U.S. called upon and led NATO to a successful, short conflict that quickly brought the Gaddafi regime to its end. The U.S. involvement was limited to air support and coordination and only a handful of ground forces (largely to facilitate air strikes and rebuilding), with European nations like Germany providing most of the force required. It is also important to note that at the same time, other Middle Eastern countries quickly stepped away, washing their hands of a situation where they stood to gain nothing.
By acting as an international leader to provide and coordinate military aid to countries with potential democratic rebels, the U.S. stands only to gain a safer, more peaceful world. With renewed international cooperation, America can hope to finally fulfill Woodrow Wilson’s message, a message once deemed too idealistic—“The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.”
– Kevin Luong