We should be welcoming Syrian refugees, not dropping bombs

Attack comes too late, escalates problems

On Friday night, the U.S. bombed Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb. But after more than 50 alleged chemical attacks during the Bashar al-Assad regime over the past seven years, it does not make sense to act now.

If the U.S. was going to attack Syria, it should have happened during former President Barack Obama’s administration. But as a nation, we were reticent to act after what happened in Iraq. The time to intervene was five years ago. Now, the damage has already been done.

The civil war in Syria is one of the worst humanitarian crises of all time, and Assad’s likely use of chemical weapons is inexcusable. The U.S. should take steps to help alleviate the crisis, but at this point, military action is not the answer.

The most effective action we can take to help Syria is accepting more refugees. The U.S. has only taken in 11 refugees this year. Last year, we took in over 3,000. European, North African and Middle Eastern countries, by comparison, have accepted millions.

President Donald Trump’s decision to attack Syria is also at odds with his “America First” policy and has alienated some of his supporters as a result.

The U.S. is often criticized for its tendency to act as a global police force, and this interventionist stance needs to stop.

We pay defense contractors millions of dollars to bomb countries 6,000 miles away, but cannot support universal healthcare, education, pay teachers adequate wages or fix crumbling infrastructure on our own soil. Flint, Michigan still does not have clean water. Our priorities as a nation are skewed and it is not only embarrassing, but also dangerous.

It is not our job to police other countries. Imagine if China decided to bomb a U.S. suburb because we poisoned the children of Flint. People would understandably be outraged. The U.S. interloping in other countries has become normalized, but if the situation were reversed, the morality of this philosophy becomes obvious.

At this point, intervening will not accomplish much, and if anything, could cause more destruction than it would prevent. Other governments in the Middle East are condemning the attack. Trump’s decision to bomb Syria could encourage the rise of more terrorism, the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement.

While the U.K. and France, two of our closest allies, also decided to intervene in Syria, and it is generally within our best interest to follow suit with our allies, not all of our allies are choosing to intervene in Syria.

In fact, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would not participate in an attack on Syria. She said she believes a “full spectrum” of measures to address the Syrian conflict should be considered. That means supporting the work of the United Nations Security Council and the Organization for the Prohibition Chemical Weapons, she added.

The U.S. should take action to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, but it should first focus its efforts on fixing its own problems. Any action in Syria at this point should be diplomatic, and all developed countries have a moral responsibility to accept Syrian refugees. The fact that our president thinks bombing rather than hospitality is the answer is disturbing and disappointing.

The opinion desk can be reached at opinion@ubpsectrum.com.