By ANTHONY VIGNA
President Obama caused debate amongst American citizens last week when he was proposing that the United States send military forces to retrieve chemical weapons from President Bashar al-Assad in war torn Syria.
The civil war in Syria started to escalate when al-Assad’s regime killed thousands of people, hundreds of which were children, with chemical weapons. Members of Congress were appalled when watching a video that proved that this was happening over in Syria, causing the United States to become involved within Syria. The conflict began in 2011 when al-Assad made a stand against activists seeking more economic prosperity, political freedom and civil liberties, according to CNN.
The idea of the United States involving themselves internationally is not a new concept to American citizens, and the return of the idea of America being the world police has caused debate amongst students on Ramapo’s campus.
Jon Mangel, 20-year old political science major, said that he finds that students on campus are talking about America’s involvement with Syria. He says that his model UN club particularly finds Syria to be a compelling topic of discussion.
“A lot of students are interested in the subject on a weekly basis,” he said. “We analyze it from the perspective of political science in my classes.”
Tom Smolinski, 20-year old history major, is against any kind of military intervention from the United States. He points to the Korean War, in which the United States tried to prevent the spread of communism, as an example as to why the United States foreign involvement typically doesn’t work.
“Korea was unified for centuries before the United States and the Soviet Union intervened,” he said. “A nation was pulled apart through the United States own interests.”
Mangel agrees with this sentiment, as he also believes that United States act in their own interest internationally. Mangel said that a country that acts in their own interest should never be the world’s police.
“The United States have propped up dictators to avoid regimes they didn’t like from gaining power,” he said. “If we were actually ‘police’, then what we would be doing internationally would be a good thing.”
Mangel said that in order to have some kind of peace keeping body, it would have to be made up of more than one state.
“International criminal court and a few other things bring criminals to justice, but it is still fairly young,” he said. “Ideally, some kind of international body with more than just one state calling the shots could possibly be beneficial.”
Smolinski said the United Nations would be perfect if there ever were some form of world police since it is comprised of multiple nations. However, he said that it would still need a long way to go before it would reach such a status because the organization is not too effective as it currently stands.
“If a situation is deemed problematic, then they should be able to intervene,” he said. “It shouldn’t be out of the question for the United Nations to keep the peace effectively.”
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry offhandedly said in an interview that if al-Assad handed over his chemical weapons, then they would prevent the United States from taking military action. Surprisingly, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is willing to urge Syria to place its weapons under international control in response to Kerry’s statement. However, if they do not comply by June 2014, then the United States plans to intervene militarily.
Mangel and Smolinski both agree that Russia’s proposal is the best way to handle the situation in Syria if this surprising act diplomacy actually functions the way it should.
“I approve of the direction that Russia is taking,” Mangel said. “Some people think that it makes the United States look weak, but who cares who looks like what if we are averting a war?”