In her blog this weekend, Sheila Kennedy pointed out that "The Onion" might have the best commentary in regard to the current crisis in Syria. "The Onion" ran a fictional letter to the United States from Assad of Syria, basically saying the United States is screwed any way we go when it comes to Syria, a nation created by those same geniuses at the end of World War I whose efforts, in part, brought us World War II.
A fundamental question we should consider is: are we morally bound to intervene in any situation in the World in which people live under or are systematically killed by an oppressive government? If so, what are the moral bases for such an obligation? The last time I checked, the Constitution has not article that enumerates powers of the Federal government to intervene in the functions of other countries when those countries commit acts of outrage. Of course, the Framers institutionalized slavery and had their eyes on land that stretched (in their pre-Louisiana Purchase perspective) to the Mississippi River. We would obtain that land and oust its indigenous people because---well, we are "we." We are special and have a higher moral call than other countries. As slavery was perpetuated in the decades that led up to the Civil War, some people voiced outrage. However, the North fought the Civil War for various reasons, the most dominant being to preserve the Union. Abolition was not high on the charts. Lincoln went out of his way, at the start of the Civil War, to calm fears his was an abolitionist candidacy.
As the 19th Century continued, so did United States incursions in other countries. We took over places like Cuba and Colombia's Isthmus of Panama for economic benefit to the United States. We backed more dictators than democratically elected governments. We even forced Cuba to include, in its constitution, a provision for a United States Navy coaling station at Guantanamo Bay. We still have that base. We no longer use steam-driven naval vessel the boilers of which are stoked by coal. During the Twentieth Century, we have overthrown elected governments in favor of our own puppets as doing so has pleased us. Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala---I could continue.
The current dispute in Syria involves a despot who has allegedly used poison gas on his own people. Part of his stockpile is said to have come from Saddam Hussein's former inventory. Saddam obtained the technology to create those supplies from the United States.
The Onion's spoof on Assad was spot-on, as Detective McNulty said in one episode of "The Wire." There is a dominant theme as to why we "need" to take military action in Syria: if we do not, we shall be perceived as "weak." I think leaders who buckle under to corporate interests and neo-con theorists, whose goals are profits and advancement of more-than-questionable ideologies at the cost of lives, American and Syrian, are the ones who are "weak." It takes guts to stand up to the entertainment divisions of various segments of the United States media conglomerate and the military-industrial complex, who want a war now for their own profits and self-interests, not for freedom and democracy.
And they don't care about the lives lost. As a famous peasant World leader once said, one human death is a tragedy; a million are a statistic. Joe Stalin said that. We should be different from Uncle Joe.