War is a terrible thing. As Robert E. Lee said, “It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.”
What a sad, yet honest statement of humanity. We must avoid war when we can.
One of the few things I supported former President Obama on was the decision to keep out of the Syrian conflict as best we could. It’s not our place to decide the fate of other peoples, particularly when we don’t know who we would be supporting. Regime change and nation building isn’t something the US needs to be in the business of.
That being said, there are times when military action is needed, even required, by decency. One of those times is chemical warfare. There’s a reason the use of chemical weapons was banned after World War I. The amount of damage and suffering caused by one of these weapons isn’t a political issue, but a humanitarian one.
On April 4, the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun was hit with chemical weapons by warplanes. To make matters worse, this attack was targeted against mostly civilians. Thirty-three children and 18 women were among the 89 killed in the strike, with more to come as injuries take their victims.
Reports show that the attack came from a Syrian airbase. Such atrocity goes beyond the trope that people will die in war. Countless treaties throughout the last century have shown an international solidarity against chemical weapons, the most recent being the Chemical Weapons Convention, where 192 nations either signed or accessed – agreed to – the treaty.
Syria did access to the treaty. Further, Syria signed the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Not only did the Syrian government use weapons on its own people, it did so in violation of a number of treaties.
When President Trump decided to fire Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian Air Force base that was responsible, I could only support the decision seeing that chemical weapons were used in violation of treaties and human dignity.
For Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad, to blatantly violate treaties and use such terrifying weapons is unacceptable.
When human dignity is so openly attacked and destroyed, we have a moral obligation to stop it.
There have been some who claim that we need a trial or investigation in order to determine who was responsible for the attack. My question is: who else could have caused this horrific damage? The Syrian government has been known to use these weapons – this isn’t the first time.
There’s a war going on. The people of Syria don’t have the luxury of a jury and attorneys, not when people are dying in droves by these sorts of attacks.
The US response to use Tomahawk missiles was appropriate. It was a statement against the use of chemical weapons: not in support of one faction or another.
I’m not purporting we be the police force of the world. We should remain out of the Syrian conflict as best we can, but when weapons of this nature are used, our humanity demands action.
Gerberding is a member of College Republicans and Honors Association.