Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

Crossing the Red Line—Now What?

Can you imagine another war for America? It seems that our nation has grown weary of recent date because of Afghanistan and Iraq. So now what’s up with Syria?

Recently President Obama declared that it would be crossing a red line if Syria used chemical weapons. He called it a “game changer” and promised that there would be swift consequences. We now have indisputable evidence that chemical weapons have been used by the government of Syria against their own people.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday, April 29: “Israel has clear evidence of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army using chemical weapons against rebels, a senior diplomatic source said on Monday.”

America seems stymied by the latest civil war in the Middle East. It is sad whenever anyone dies, but the harsh reality is that a few hundred were affected by the chemicals unleashed by the Syrian army compared to the thousands that have been killed in the civil war already. Yet the leading nations of the world have done little to stop the bloodshed. The Syrian death toll is at least 70,000, mostly civilians, innocent men, women and children, who are not involved in the fighting. And on top of that, another 500,000 have sought refuge in Jordan.

An online news agency, “The Washington Square News,” in an opinion piece this week, clearly laid out the problem that America faces: “Any call for U.S. intervention implies an assumption of superiority based on the idea of American exceptionalism. But many argue that the United States is not superior, and that we have no right to meddle in other countries’ affairs. The American government has jurisdiction over its 50 states, not the world.”

The article concludes, “As a nation that has claimed to be the flagbearer of democracy for over 200 years, the United States and its ideals are now being put to the test. What is incontestable is that lives will be lost regardless of the path we choose to pursue, but nothing will improve if we remain idle.”

Whether the media is in favor of U.S. involvement in Syria or not, liberal or conservative, all recognize that President Obama has backed himself into a corner by his statements about the red line. Here is a report [by Ed Morrissey commenting on a Meet the Press program] from NBC News: “This is the reverse of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous axiom, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ In this case, Obama spoke loudly while unsure of whether to pick up a stick at all. That has some inside and outside of the US worried about American credibility in other conflicts, specifically with Iran.”

Is America standing by, watching another humanitarian disaster? Will Syria become like Rwanda in the 1990s or the genocide in Darfur, or even worse? With no end in sight, who can predict the number of people who will be killed or displaced before the problems are resolved? 1 million, 2 million or more?

Is there a red line, as President Obama has announced? Everyone agrees that without strong moral leadership in the world, these most difficult disputes and wars will not be solved. If America fails to act, the only remaining superpower will be diminished and, at some point, completely dismissed. If some nation or group of nations doesn’t act soon, it is clear that thousands more will die or be displaced.

The world is watching Syria. And the world is watching America. Is America willing to provide the moral leadership that could change things in Syria?

Whenever leadership is uncertain, a vacuum is created and someone will fill that void. Who will it be? The world is watching and waiting. If America fails to act, rest assured, others will not. And what will be the outcome? How many will die? How many nations will be dragged into the dispute before it is over? The situation in Syria is desperate and getting worse by the day. Who will show the moral leadership to bring it to a halt? How long will this go on before help arrives? The only answer is that we must wait and see.

On the Mount of Olives shortly before His death Jesus Christ admonished His disciples to “watch and pray.” This would seem to be appropriate advice for His disciples almost 2,000 years later.

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Jim Franks.