Pointing at the Wrong People: Syria is the Real Threat, Not Iran

By Chris Cronin
Elm Staff Writer

The drums of war have begun to beat in Washington. The Israeli government has been increasingly vocal about the need for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Already incendiary rhetoric has been voiced in policy circles: that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, that Israel must act in its own self-defense, and that the Israeli air force is ready to carry out a strike.

Less than ten years ago, Israeli leaders partnered with conservative American politicians and used similar rhetoric to push for an invasion of Iraq. Many similar claims were made: chiefly, that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction posed a direct threat to America and especially to Israel.

But Israel did not pay the price for the Iraq War. We did; in lives, money, and political capital. A long, drawn out invasion and occupation of Iran would be even more disastrous. The country fought Saddam to a standstill in the 1980s and has been slowly developing its army since then to fight exactly the sort of insurgency that U.S. military officials dread. Even if we do not strike Iran, but allow Israel to, the possibility that we would be drawn into a war with Iran is extremely high.
Make no mistake: our Israeli allies must be protected at all costs. But there is simply not enough evidence that Iran poses a serious threat. There is much debate as to how long it will take Iran to achieve the amount of enriched uranium it would take to build a bomb. And even if a nuclear warhead is assembled, the chances of it being given to a proxy organization to carry out a terrorist attack are relatively slim. Iran is fully aware of its precarious position, and a nuclear attack on the United States, Israel, or any of our allies would lead to the complete and total destruction of the regime, most likely with widespread international support.
War is already raging in the Middle East. In Syria, the corrupt and morally bankrupt regime has already butchered thousands of civilians. The rebels, many of whom are army deserters who chose to flee and fight instead of murdering noncombatants, are desperately in need of weapons, ammo, and military support.
Meanwhile, the international community continues to pin its hopes on brokered peace treaties, which the regime has gladly used to screen its actions and buy time to continue the massacre of civilians, especially in Homs. How anyone can seriously think that Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, will stick to the latest, U.N.-backed treaty, when he has blatantly violated every previous attempt at peace, is beyond me.

Last year, the international community rallied around a rag-tag group of fighters and helped them to successfully and swiftly take down another vicious regime in Libya. There are similarities in the Syrian uprising: a regional battle turning into a country-wide civil war, a large group of rebels willing to do the fighting, and a brutal and internationally isolated regime. Even Russia, a country which has repeatedly been accused of shielding Syria from broader sanctions, publicly rebuked the Assad regime in March.

If we do not aid the rebels, one of two things will happen. First, the Assad regime will continue to massacre civilians, bury them in secret mass graves, and kill any foreign journalists who get in the way. Second, the rebels are able to gain ground, and the country devolves into a long, drawn-out civil war. And if Syria devolves into civil war, it could turn into a failed state—exactly the sort of place where terrorist groups love to shelter, and a base from which they actually could strike Israel or the United States.

We need to help the rebels fight for freedom in Syria. How many more must die before we take action?

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