Why students should care about Syria

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This image taken Wednesday shows buildings that were destroyed from a shelling by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad, in Homs province, central Syria.
 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

On Friday, before Americans began their three-day weekend, President Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden and announced that he would seek congressional approval for U.S. military action against the Syrian government. 

Though U.N inspectors have not yet confirmed it, both the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have publicly stated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered a chemical attack on his own citizens that killed “well over 1,000 people,” many of them children. 

If the president’s claims of chemical warfare are true, then moral outrage at the situation is justified. But the question of whether or not American military intervention is the correct course of action is more complicated, and it now falls to Congress to answer. Students should pay particular attention to the debate that ensues. 

For many UT students, Syria is little more than a name on a map. That this paper, a hyper-local publication, is even mentioning Syria may strike some members of the UT community as odd. But we do so out of a belief that students, as much as the rest of the U.S., need to pay attention to the Syrian situation now more than ever. 

Millennials have grown up in a time of constant, distant warfare, and the way in which Congress answers the question of Syria may decide whether the children of millennials will likewise grow up with foreign wars waged by American soldiers. 

Rather than attempt to answer the many specific questions about Syria that have been raised, we suggest to students that they attempt to answer the following questions for themselves: 

1. Should the U.S. intervene in matters beyond our waters, or do our government’s duties, so to speak, stop at the water? 

2. What constitutes a morally compelling reason to engage in military intervention? 

3. How do we as citizens express our support or lack of support for war? 

None of these questions have easy answers, but they are some of the issues that will be tackled head-on in Washington in the debate over what to do about Syria. Although UT students don’t have a seat at the tables of power, that doesn’t give them an excuse to turn a blind eye. If students don’t give serious thought to these questions and consider the implications of military intervention, they will find themselves shut out of the debate regarding an important part of this country’s future.