The statement that should be issued from the Obama administration in regards to foreign policy should be, "If you're not careful, we will be forced to call another meeting."
Ever since the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians on Aug. 21 took place, the Obama administration and the international community as a whole have struggled to come to a consensus regarding the dire situation in the ravaged Middle Eastern country.
Last week United Nations investigators and U.S. intelligence confirmed that Bashar al-Assad did in fact use nerve gas on thousands of Syrians, and that most of the victims were civilians. Horrifying footage from Damascus showed women and children suffering from the effects of the chemical weapons attack. Naturally, everyone is looking at the U.S. and the European Union wondering, "What do we do?"
For those of you who've had your heads buried in the sand (or the books) for the past few months, a brief overview:
The Alawite leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has been locked in a civil war with his people for two and a half years. At least 100,000 Syrians have died since 2011 and more than 4 million have been displaced. Iran and Russia remain the Assad regime's strongest allies at this point, which further strains relations between the U.S. and Russia.
While the war has been raging for months, other countries have largely attempted to stay out of it. However, on Aug. 21, a chemical weapons attack led to the death of at least 1,400 Syrians, mostly civilians. This is a blatant breach of international law and it seems Syria cannot be ignored any longer.
Last week, President Obama announced that he was abdicating the decision of whether or not to attack Assad to Congress and leaving it to their vote. This was smart on the part of the President: a recent poll reported that 79 percent of Americans feel he should get the approval of Congress before authorizing military action in Syria.
Although President Obama is right to approach the situation with caution (no one is eager for another Iraq), he should also be wary of bold statements like the one he made last year when he expressed that chemical weapons would be a red line that the United States could not tolerate. Making statements like that is perfectly fine if you intend to follow it up with full force, but so far our response has been unorganized and not exactly timely.
A highly important question in foreign policy has always been whether or not it's the job of America to police the rest of the world. As Americans, we are no strangers to involvement in conflicts in which we sometimes find little purpose.
Scott Simpson, a nursing student at UT and a veteran of the war in Iraq, believes that we need to approach the situation with extreme caution. He said that enough American blood has been shed in Middle Eastern countries for people who do not necessarily appreciate it.
"We don't need to add another country full of terrorists to our foreign policy payroll," Simpson said.
Even though the Obama administration has already stated that military action will be limited and that there will be no troops on the ground in Syria, Simpson's remark raises an important question. Regardless of how limited the military action is right now, there's no way to predict what the situation will look like a year from now.
A recent poll conducted by Reuters showed that only 28 percent of Americans think we should intervene in Syria.
What interested me more than the article that reported this were the comments written beneath it: "When they asked about a limited strike, did they tell the American participants how much a cruise missile cost? How much it cost to fuel a fighter? Did they preface it with what our national debt was now?"
Many comments featured similar rhetoric, suggesting that many Americans oppose military action in Syria.
There's no doubt that what's happening in Syria is heinous and unacceptable. It's easy to understand why our government is having a difficult time making a decision in this case.
They would do well to truly listen to the voices of the American people, even if that means deciding that we don't have a dog in this fight.
Katie Dean is a junior in political science and psychology. She can be reached at email@example.com.