As I trudge through the rising mire of conjecture regarding what should and shouldn’t be done regarding the escalating crisis in Syria, I continue getting stuck. Something repeatedly, is tapping the inside of my psyche begging to be heard, but every time I stop to listen. Silence.

"What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad's capabilities. At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.”[1]

I don’t understand. Something limited? Something proportional? What does limited mean? What is proportional? These words are changing the composition of my interior landscape.

Degrading the enemy and upgrading the opposition. By killing and supplying weapons?

This is what’s being said, isn’t it?

“Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.  This would not be an open-ended intervention.  We would not put boots on the ground.  Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.”[2]

We would not put boots on the ground. Limited in duration and scope.

The words echo in my ears.

“I'm confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors.  I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable.”[2]

Confident in the case our government has made?

Comfortable going forward without approval? Paralyzed and unwilling.

The gripping in my chest tightens with every spoken word.

“A country faces few decisions as grave as using military force, even when that force is limited. I respect the views of those who call for caution, particularly as our country emerges from a time of war that I was elected in part to end. But if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing.” [2]

The war in Iraq is over? Did we win?

Caution isn’t appropriate? Doing nothing is the only other option?

There’s that word again: limited.

“Here's my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community:  What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”[2]

I also have a question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community.

What message will we send to our own children if instead of dropping bombs we find another way?

“If we won't enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorist who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?”[2]

As individuals and as nations we are being confronted over and over again with the same gruesome tests. What does it say about our resolve if we continue to choose guns over dialogue?

Words cannot communicate the injustice, maliciousness and insanity responsible for the murdering of innocent men, women and children. Nor can images place us into the center of a battlefield.

The footage we’ve been exposed to is horrific. So are the options we are being presented with. Regardless of what is now so vividly flashing before us, never, will we experience the scope of unforgivable carnage if our country goes to war. We will never see the men and women we murder. We will never know the full extent of the sickening devastation we engender.

Trust is an illusion and control, even more derisive. Dead human beings however are not conceptual imagery. Dropping bombs and supplying weapons does not guarantee one single thing except more bloodshed. It is counter-intuitive to believe otherwise.

Just one more war and then finally we’ll have peace?


Syria is but one battle. What about the next? And the next?

We have the power to do something revolutionary. Life is presenting us with the ultimate moral challenge, propelling us into playing the hero in our own story. We can be the generation that chooses peace over war and dialogue over violence.

How does the story end?

“We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us.”[2]


~ by Christine Fowle

[1] Jeff Mason and Yara Bayoumy,  “Obama wins backing for Syria strike from key figures in Congress”, Reuters - September 4, 2013

[2] President Barack Obama, “Statement by the President on Syria” August 31, 2013