Point v. Counterpoint: “Syria — How to Move Forward?”

By Grace Masback and Sydney Palmer

WANT Original Content

As the Assad regime in Syria becomes more repressive and dangerous to its people is The United States obligated to promote further military action in Syria?


The people of Syria deserve a chance. More than 190,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it began in early 2010. That’s 190,000 people too many.  The repressive regime of Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad has committed countless human rights violations and atrocities and it is time for Western powers, led by the United States, to step up and put an end to this terrible human tragedy. Syria is a country on the brink. Though Syrian rebels have been bravely fighting the regime for years with limited resources, they now lack basic necessities, such as food and water, and would require basic training and substantial military assistance if they are to have any chance to topple the sophisticated military power of the Assad regime. To complicate matters, the ongoing instability in the region is breeding radical resistance groups who have stepped into the gaps created by the constant state of war. They will stop at nothing to pursue their radical agendas, undermining rebel strongholds and terrorizing the general public

The people in Syria deserve a chance. When the fledgling United States was fighting for its independence from England, the colonists had similar goals in mind — overthrow a government that exploited its people and crushed civil libierties. The brave revolutionaries wanted a chance at a better, freer life where their thoughts and ideas could be expressed openly and their voice heard in the political system. They weren’t alone in the fight. Though under-resourced and facing the world’s most powerful army, they received help from the French government and military assistance from French, Polish, and Spanish generals. This help was a key factor in the fight for independence.

The people in Syria deserve a chance. They deserve the chance at a stable democracy, a chance for success. Syrian children deserve to grow up in an environment where they can follow their dreams, receive an education, and build a future, not be forced to grow up in a country where they struggle to find food and water, live in tents and abandoned buildings, and are at constant threat of attack by government forces or extremist groups. It is the duty and moral obligation of the United States and other Western superpowers to provide the people of Syria the chances they deserve.

World leaders from many countries have advocated removal of the extractive Assad regime and some have openly or covertly supplied the rebels. But where is the United States? The less then sincere attempts at “aid” by the U.S. government have done little for the situation. Many of the arms it sent to rebels ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists, military “advisors” have had little discernable impact, and some recent U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants may actually have been more damaging to key rebel strongholds.

Though previous military actions may have destabilized the Middle East, leading to increased violence and unrest, the the need in Syria is dire. The situation for the Syrian people is increasingly untenable. Mortars continue to rain down on civilian neighborhoods. Shortages have become the norm. The energy and effectiveness of the rebels is diminishing as they suffer crushing defeats. Though U.S. involvement in Iraq may have been based on a false pretext, the global interest in the right outcome in Syria is clear. Intervention needs to happen now. It is the obligation of the United States, as a country that fought for its own independence and civil liberties, and was assisted by other countries, to help Syria, a nation with a vision similar to its own almost 250 years ago.


Although it’s easy to be drawn into the emotional turmoil associated with the horrific situation in Syria, in order to make objective decisions about the true effect of the conflict and possible remedies we need to take a step back. Unwise and unnecessary military incursions in the Middle East date back to colonial times, when major world powers arbitrarily drew lines on the map, dividing up regions without paying adequate attention to religious tensions and pre-existing tribal and political institutions. Since then, the region has been engulfed in a seemingly endless cycle of unrest, conflict, and violence, resisting decades of attempts by Western nations to foster democratic institutions.

What’s clear is that past military have done little to make things better, if anything, they’ve made them worse. Take Iraq as a prime example. The United States allegedly entered Iraq to locate and destroy weapons of mass destruction and to retaliate for Sadaam Hussein’s involvement in 9/11. Though U.S. military action toppled Hussein’s repressive regime, no weapons of mass destruction were located and it’s clear that no Iraqi had anything to do with 9/11. The chaos and bloodshed the war left in its wake has wreaked havoc on the Iraqi people, cost the United States thousands of lives, a trillion dollars, and ultimately left Iraq vulnerable to the rampaging Islamic State terrorists.

Only 40% of Americans actually support increased military involvement in Syria. The Iraq experience is evidence enough why further U.S. military action to remove the repressive Assad dictatorship in Syria is not a viable option. It will only lead to another endless war, cost the United States further loss of blood and treasure, and ultimately fail to bring stability to the region.

Although this position may seem heartless, we must make a decision based on facts not emotions. It is difficult to think of a single recent example where military action by Western powers has resulted in peace and a highly functioning democracy, especially in the Middle East. Fact. It has actually left countries worse of then they were before. Fact. And cost the meddling countries billions. Fact. As President Obama famously stated, “The U.S. cannot be the World’s policeman.” In order for countries like Syria to have a possibility of stability in the future, the revolution and change must come from within.

Recent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria aimed at the Islamic State terrorists (ISIS) are a good solution. By weakening terrorists in the area, the United States at least helps Syria protect the integrity of its borders. But, the very fact that the airstrikes must be undertaken in such a way as to harm ISIS without bolstering the Assad regime is evidence of the complexity of the situation. Providing training and weapons to the Syrian rebels is the limit of what we should do – we have no moral obligation or political need to do more.

Comment which side you think is the winner below? We would love to hear from you if you have a debate idea or would like to write part of a debate let us know.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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