Everybody’s burden-A A +A
By Mel Libre
Saturday, September 7, 2013
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama is in a dilemma. He knows that if he wants to maintain respect for the military might of the United State, then he needs to show it through action: launching a punitive strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who allegedly ordered a chemical weapons attack in Damascus that killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children.
Chemical weapons have long been banned in warfare and if indeed Assad ordered its use against his own people, he will face charges of crimes against humanity and will be in the inglorious company of Adolf Hitler (who used chemicals to kill Jews in concentration camps) and Saddam Hussein (who used chemical weapons against Iranian forces and Kurdish villagers).
President Obama, a Nobel Peace laureate, has much at stake here. The faulty decision in the pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein has not been forgotten.
President George W. Bush pursued military operations against the unpopular Iraqi dictator alleging that the latter stored weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the US. It can now be revealed that Saddam never had those weapons. In a way, the reason for the US invasion had no factual basis.
It is therefore sensible for countries allied with the US to be lukewarm about Obama’s possible military strike on Syria. They need more proof on the claim regarding the use of chemical weapons against rebels and civilians.
President Obama has brought his case before the US Congress to obtain a unified stand against Assad. If the US Congress rejects Obama’s proposal, it may dent the US President’s resolve to put order in the world, but he can’t be blamed for not trying.
One thing that should concern all is the impact of the Syrian civil war on civilians and neighboring nations. Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon have given 1.8 million Syrians refuge, while over 4 million others have been displaced within its borders.
The situation may well be similar to the exodus of Vietnamese to escape the communist rule. It is estimated that there were 1-2 million boat people with nearly 400,000 dying at sea.
When will we ever learn? We have yet to experience a totally peaceful world, as conflicts arise in different countries year in, year out. One despot disappears, another one emerges. It is cyclical, and who suffers but civilians including the innocent children.
Pope Francis opposes military strikes against Syria, as he called for a negotiated settlement while at the same time condemning the use of chemical weapons. Today, September 7, he has called on Catholics and non-Catholics to participate in fasting and praying for peace with the theme, “Let the cry for peace rise up across the Earth!”
The burden of Barack Obama is not his alone or that of the US Congress. It is our burden as well. Let us cry for peace, that it may penetrate the hearts of leaders, that it may be heard by our God of Peace and Goodwill.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 07, 2013.