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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Soft power not enough for Syria

Syria is making headlines not for their peace conference, but rather, for more death and destruction.

The country has been in a civil war for more than three years. Assad has not met one of the deadlines for the removal of chemical weapons, and Syria is turning into a training facility for al-Qaida.

Peaceful resolutions and negotiations have not worked; it is time for America to take a harder position.

In the last four months since The Guilfordian announced the peaceful negotiations, the Assad regime and rebel groups seem unwilling to compromise.

Reuters reported “140,000 people, 7,000 of them children” have been killed in Syria, and The Observatory reported that 4,959 people have died in the three-week period between Jan. 22 and the first negotiation meeting.

António Guterres, chief of the United Nations refugee agency, said that Syria is now more violent than the genocide in Rwanda, and The Washington Post reported that nine million Syrians have been displaced, about one third of the country’s population.

Syrians have suffered enough for one lifetime. Now is the time for America to take a hard stance to ensure more innocent lives aren’t lost.

Not only is the humanitarian crisis in Syria dreadful — so are the U.N. negotiation meetings.

There have been two meetings in which the U.N. tried to mediate the conflicts, and at both meetings, they couldn’t even settle on an agenda.

U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is not satisfied with how the meetings have been coming along.  He has made a public apology to the Syrian people.

Riad Haddad, the Syrian ambassador to Russia, said that the new date for the removal of chemical weapons has been pushed back to March 1.

I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, though. Syria has failed to meet two deadlines prior to the new March date without any repercussions.

According to Senator Lindsey Graham, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the slow removal of the chemical weapons and said the United States will have to change the strategy on dealing with Syria.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and CIA Director John Brennan have both been very vocal on the issue of Syria becoming a site for terrorist groups.

“Clapper testified that the Syrian insurgency has more than 7,000 foreign fighters,” wrote Samuel Berger in The Washington Post. “Many will return to their homes in Europe and elsewhere as trained, hardened combatants.”

War should not be the first answer to a problem, and if there are other means of dealing with these type of situations that will effectively help, I suggest we use those first. But I do think that we need to be prepared for the worst and not only rely on these negotiation meetings.

Sometimes, apathy can be just as bad as actually committing violent acts. If it takes force to stop a despot from torturing, maiming and killing a generation of people, then so be it.

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  • O

    Omar HamadFeb 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    From a Syrian-American with family still in Syria and someone who formerly wrote about this issue for the Guilfordian when it first became news, I would like to thank you for your honest and accurate assessment for this situation. It’s true that intervention on the part of the U.S in Syria would face several challenges, justice must be served to the Assad regime. The fact that the Ukraine has been able to challenge and topple its leadership in 3 months while Syria has been locked in Civil War in 3 years reveals both the stubbornness of Syrian leadership and the inaction of foreign powers to provide any meaningful support to the opposition. It’s time that changed.

  • K

    KafantarisFeb 22, 2014 at 12:19 am

    “[N]arrowly tailored attacks targeting Islamist fighters who may be looking to use that country’s lawless war zones as a staging ground for potential attacks on U.S. allies, U.S. interests and possibly the United States itself.”
    Sounds good.
    And doable in the present international and domestic environment.
    Let’s go for it.