The details are unclear, and the Syrian government and opposition have two very different accounts of what happened in the Damascus suburb of Daraya at the weekend. But one thing seems clear – the deaths of perhaps 200 people mark what appears to have been the bloodiest day so far in Syria’s civil war.
But should the United States be doing more? And should it intervene directly? Last week, Global Public Square asked readers for their take on what role, if any, the U.S. should play. And the overwhelming view was that it should largely stay out of the crisis.
A commenter under the name Saul Hernandez reflected the concerns of many of the more than 1,000 people who left comments on CNN and Facebook that U.S. involvement could see the situation escalate into a broader conflict.
“U.S. should not be involved in Syria. In fact, instead of helping the opposition to the al-Assad’s regime, U.S. should rather put real pressure on all parties to stop fighting the war and the killing in Syria will come to an end,” Hernandez wrote. “On the other hand if the U.S. gets involved in Syria militarily, then we will have to prepare ourselves for a regional war, and even perhaps a WWIII scenario because Russia will never let Bashar fall.”
Davec0121 agreed that U.S. military intervention would likely be counterproductive. “Not our job. I am sorry about what’s happening in Syria, but it is essentially Syria's problem. They will need to work it out for themselves. Trying to solve their problems is not worth American lives, particularly since the effort would be futile anyway. We don't have any real compelling national interest in Syria, since neither side will like us, so we have no compelling need to participate in yet another civil war. We don't need another Iraq.”
Still, not everyone was so dismissive of a more active U.S. role, with some readers suggesting that the U.S. has genuine national security interests of its own in intervening in some way. Vince wrote: “I don’t think there is a choice. If there’s even a reasonable chance that chemical and biological weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist groups, we will need to take action because you know they WILL be used against the U.S. at some point and the thousands that will die will make the 3,000 from 911 seem inconsequential.” But he also argued that the United States should “engage with Russia and China” on the issue as it’s in everyone’s interests to secure weapons of mass destruction.
Davehuckle, though, believes that the objections of Russia and China might not matter anyway. “Russia will not try to stop the U.S., nor will China. What are they going to do? Start a nuclear war that ends in the extinction of mankind over one man who is killing his own people?”
But Dominick wasn’t swayed by the weapons of mass destruction argument.
“Assad’s weapons have been on the shelves for years, why are they an issue now?” he asked. “He has never threatened us with them. They are set aside in case Israel comes across his border. They are for invaders. Sort of like the gun you keep in your closet.”
Tina Gomez, meanwhile, echoed a point made by Fareed Zakaria on his show recently, specifically that before further action is taken, the U.S. and others would do well to first understand the opposition.
“Before we intervene in Syria do we know whom are we supporting? Assad may be a dictator, but do we know the fact that he has a wide support amongst the Syrian people. If he did not have enough support he wouldn't have survived so far. Yes the Syrian regime has killed many civilians, but what about the rebels,” she writes.
For those that do believe the U.S. could do more, it may anyway be a question of waiting and seeing – and giving the U.S. time to focus on its own issues.
“We should continue to wait, and continue to provide support to the rebels at this current time as the situation doesn't currently warrant our intervention purely based on what it would cost us right now,” Opizze writes. “We need to rebuild our military and regroup. We need to rebuild our economy, or at least allow it more time to recover, and the rebels seem to be holding their own for the moment.”