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Web Letters | The Nation

If not the US, who? If not now, when?

I am a Jewish American who was born five years after World War II ended and the world had learned about the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who were murdered, of which 1 million were children. We later learned that Roosevelt knew what was going on and chose to do nothing. Fast forward fifty years later, and Clinton did nothing to prevent the slaughter of close to a million people in Rwanda.

We cannot be the world’s policeman, but we are the only power capable of projecting military power on a worldwide basis to help prevent genocide and war. We used our military to stop the genocide in Kosovo, end the famine in Somalia, aid the victims from the earthquake in Haiti and assist Japan after the tsunami. We got it wrong in Iraq, but we get it right most of the time.

My fear is that Obama will cave in to the Russians and have some sort of peace conference that will leave Assad in power and not be held accountable for the murders of 100,000 people and the use of chemical weapons against civilians, and this will embolden dictators like Assad around the world. I also believe that coming out publicly promising a limited attack (if one happens at all) plays into the hands of tyrants like Assad and Putin.

I have read hundreds of readers’ comments posted on The Nation and several other media sites and 95 percent are against America doing anything at all to stop the slaughter in Syria. I find this morally repugnant and reprehensible. If we can prevent mass murder without having boots on the ground, we should do it. For whatever reason, history has empowered America with the ability to make a stand for what is morally right, even if it is not in America’s strategic interests to act. I fear that this time America is going to stand down rather than stand up and make a statement that mass murder, the use of chemical weapons and indiscriminately using warplanes, tanks, and artillery to destroy cities in Syria will not be tolerated.

Unfortunately, as with the aftermath in Vietnam, because of gross miscalculations and stupidity on the part of politicians, America will draw inward and become more isolationist, and history has shown when that happens brutal dictators and tyrants around the world will be emboldened. There will not be fewer Rwandas and fewer Syrias if America does nothing, there will be more, and the killing will only get worse.

I voted for our president enthusiastically in 2008 and 2012 and hope he acts and does not cave in to those who want us to stay completely out of the conflict. We can make a strong statement that the slaughter of innocent men, women and children will not be tolerated without sending our men and women to another land to fight and die.

America has many faults and we have made many, many mistakes, but when the Chinese students protested against their government they held up a homemade display of the Statue of Liberty. It wasn’t just our Constitution and Bill of Rights they held up as a symbol of freedom but also America’s resolve to stand up for those who were denied freedom by their governments who not only sought to deny their citizens the right to free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly but also to those governments who believed they could imprison, murder and torture their civilians without being held accountable or made to stop their barbarity.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Aug 29 2013 - 3:45pm

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