Syria is a Chance for America to be on the Right Side of History. by Isaac Matson

Russian arms shipments to the Syrian regime will escalate what some are already calling a civil war.  Scores of unarmed men, women and children have been killed at the hands of regime forces.  European nations are purposing stronger action. It is time for the United States to intervene. 

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United Sates had become aware of a shipment of Russian attack helicopters headed for Syria. The Syrian uprising has been ongoing for 15 months and the death toll is staggering. It was staggering before the West became aware of the atrocity that took place last month in Houla.

As reported by Reuters, on Friday, May 25, pro-government militia entered Houla and killed 108 people, the vast majority of whom were civilians. According to U.N. officials, many women and children were among the dead. Rupert Colville, a U.N. rights spokesman told Reuters in separate statements, “At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses.”

“Some 49 children and 34 women were among the known victims but the toll was not definitive...there are reports of more deaths.” 

“Almost half of the ones we know of so far are children--that is totally unpardonable--and a very large number of woman as well.” 

Later in the report, Colville says that 32 of the children killed were under the age of 10. More and more children are becoming casualties in this conflict, many suffering horrific fates. In a report filed today, Reuters confirms that the Syrian regime has employed children as human shields and that children have been “placed in front of tanks, tortured, raped and assassinated."

France is purposing that the United Nations enact Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter, allowing the Security Council, the most powerful institution in the UN, to use sanctions and even military force against the Syrian regime, lead by President Bashar al-Assad. China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, have repeatedly blocked strong efforts to confront the Syrian regime. 

One can speculate as to why China would block such efforts, but Russia’s motives are clear: Syria is their longtime ally, and home to Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean Sea. It seems that for Vladamir Putin’s government, strategic power is more important than human rights, evidenced by their shipment of attack helicopters to a regime that has already demonstrated its capacity for slaughter, as this inforgraphic from Reuters shows: 

The time for the United Sates to act is now. Yes, the situation is complex. Yes, Syria is quite different from Libya. No, direct military intervention by U.S. troops should not be an option. But we should arm the opposition that so often places itself between murderous government forces and unarmed civilians. 

If Russia is willing to arm a regime that so shamelessly kills its own people, than the West, including the United States, should arm the rebels. Then, at least, civilians would have a chance. The calls for arming the rebels are longstanding and have come from both sides of the political spectrum: Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as the editors of The New Republic have called for arming the opposition. 

We need to use our power and join other Western nations on the right side of history before it is too late.