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Columbus, Ohio State students react to US involvement in Syria

Syrians stage a sit-in at Youssef al-Azmeh Square in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 9 in a protest against US threats to launch a military strike against their country. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Syrians stage a sit-in at Youssef al-Azmeh Square in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 9 in a protest against US threats to launch a military strike against their country.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Columbus residents and Ohio State students are reacting in various ways to the potential United States missile strike on Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has come under international controversy following reports that his government used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,000 Syrian civilians.

Conflicts related to al-Assad’s regime have been happening in Syria for more than two years with death tolls estimated to surpass 100,000 people.

U.S. President Barack Obama called for Congressional support of a targeted missile strike on Syria, which he addressed in national remarks about Syria Tuesday evening.

“The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use,” Obama said.

Fearful that involvement in Syria could lead to conflicts reminiscent of those fought by the U.S. in Iraq and Vietnam, many Americans participated in antiwar rallies that took place in cities including New York and Washington, D.C.

Columbus saw a rally Sunday afternoon, as a few protestors stood in front of the Statehouse holding “honk if you oppose war” signs.

Rally organizer Daniel Moore told The Lantern Sunday the U.S. should be more concerned with domestic issues than humanitarian efforts overseas.

The U.S. can neither afford another war, nor should it spend its efforts to arm rebels who may one day use the United States’ weapons against it, Moore said.

The White House authorized the CIA to supply arms to some rebels of al-Assad’s regime in June, but the weapons have not yet been delivered, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some students at OSU support Obama’s plan to strike al-Assad’s regime.

Former OSU College Republican Chairman Drew Stroemple said he believes Assad should be stripped of power for abuses to human rights.

The United Nations has reported more than two million refugees have fled Syria.

“It’s a complex issue that I don’t believe either (U.S. political) party can be completely one-sided on, but it’s clear that al-Assad needs to go,” said Stroemple, a fourth-year in political science and economics.

The U.S. should get involved in order to protect its biggest ally in the region, Israel, Stroemple said.

Juliana Wishne, executive director of College Democrats at OSU and a second-year in political science and Spanish, said she agrees the U.S. must take a stand against the actions in Syria.

Wishne said the U.S. must maintain its credibility in the Middle East as a country that will not tolerate human rights violations.

“The main goal is not to stop (al-)Assad or even to immediately help Syrian civilians,” Wishne said. “We need to send a message to countries such as Iran and North Korea that chemical warfare will not be tolerated.”

A vote to follow up on Obama’s plans was scheduled to take place this weekend but was delayed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid due to recent opposition from six U.S. senators.

Following an agreement Tuesday morning between Russia and Syria that will ban the production of all chemical weapons and allow Russia, the U.N. and other countries to investigate storage sites, Obama maintained his stance that the U.S. take military action against Syria if the agreement were to fail.

“The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver,” Obama said Tuesday. “I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force – we learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can make Assad, or any other dictator, think twice before using chemical weapons.”

Wishne said she stands by the decision Obama made to go to Congress considering there is no imminent threat to national security.

Obama said in his address the U.S. is not in charge of monitoring the world’s other nations, but it should be willing to step in to prevent future war crimes.

“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act,” Obama said.

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