Fecteau: A Responsibility to Protect in Syria

Monday, April 10, 2017
Matt Fecteau, GoLocalProv Guest MINDSETTERâ„¢

The Trump administration ordered targeted military strikes on a Syrian airbase after the recent chemical gas attacks perpetrated by the government of President Bashar al-Assad on his own people. Some may question the need for these strikes, but the reality is that humanitarian intervention is something that – while legally debatable — is a worthy goal. The United States has dithered while Syria burns for far too long, and at the least now, the Syrian government has faced some consequence for its use of chemical gas. 

The United States cannot prevent all heinous acts, but that doesn’t mean it should be a bystander to conflicts so egregious in nature, they threaten U.S. national security interests. The goals of the targeted military strikes are limited but may be expanded to prevent further bloodshed in Syria. The war in Syrian has killed nearly 500,000 people (according to some estimates), and displaced millions – enough is enough. 

The Assad-led Syrian government forfeited its right to legitimacy years ago. While the so-called Islamic State is a contributing factor, the chaos in Syria is largely driven by a Syrian government that flagrantly violates international norms to maintain power, including barrel bombing cities, raping and torturing children, the use of child soldiers, and the now-infamous use of chemical gas. 

With this latest attack, videos have emerged on social media showing the tragic consequences of this chemical strike; children in immense pain, and panting for air can be visibly be seen. These chemical assaults may have been war crimes, and after a thorough investigation, the International Criminal Court should weigh charges against the culprits within the Syrian government. Military intervention should be last resort but warranted in this case because the Syrian government has proven that it is willing to use the most horrific weapons of mass destruction to suppress its people. 

These latest military strikes are in line with international goals. At the 2005 World Summit, all member U.N. nation-states – including Syria — endorsed the idea of responsibility to protect all people, regardless of ethnicity or nationality, from “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” This latest chemical attack falls into this responsibility to protect paradigm and triggered a justified American military response though not specifically sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council or authorized by Congress. 

Regardless, the United States needed to send a clear, strong message that the Syrian government has gone too far. Without such an intervention, however, the loss of life could be even more catastrophic. The Syrian government would potentially continue to use chemical gas, killing much more; it now knows there are consequences for its actions. 

In the absence of action, the situation becomes far graver. For example, the Rwandan Genocide during President Bill Clinton’s tenure is a clear example of the dire consequences in the face of doing nothing. 800,000 people were killed in the remote African country, all while the United States and the global community wavered. Now, imagine chemical weapons were involved such as with Syria; a dire concern indeed. 

President Clinton’s decision (or indecision) remains a black mark on otherwise stellar international record. Clinton even admits he could have saved 300,000 people if the United States intervened. In his defense, this dithering came after the regrettable incident in Mogadishu known as Blackhawk Down, making intervention in faraway countries that much harder to justify in the wake of American lives lost. 

Clinton learned from his failure in Rwanda. He ordered the United States to intervene into Yugoslavia. Clinton prevented the murderous government of strongman Slobodan Milošević from continually butchering the ethnic Bosniaks in 1995 and then the Albanians in 1999— both without formal U.N. or Congressional approval. 

Mr. Donald Trump pursued the correct, yet overdue course of action to hold the Syrian regime accountable for these monstrous chemical attacks. In 2005, the international community determined it had a responsibility to protect everyone, including troops and civilians from the kind of attacks that are occurred in Syria. The United States doesn’t need to police the world, but there are instances that are so brutal they require a military response. The chemical weapon attacks in Syria were one of those times. 

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau

  • Jennifer Duffy

    Cook Report

    "We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

     
  • Pam Gencarella

    Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

    "Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

    Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

     
  • Kay Israel

    Professor at Rhode Island College

    "With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

    The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

    For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

     
  • Jennifer Lawless

    Professor at American University

    "The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

    His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

     
  • Len Lardaro

    Professor at University of Rhode Island

    "Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

    I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

    A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

    That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
    The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

    Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."
     

     
  • Mike Stenhouse

    RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

    "As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

    Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

     

X

Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email