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Gil Laroya

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The Middle East Conundrum: Why the Stakes Are Higher

Posted: 09/13/2013 12:31 pm

As Washington stirs amongst the various debates regarding what to do about Syria, there is a looming possibility that Syria could become the next chapter in the United States' Middle East struggle. There are those who would say that the problems with the Middle East have existed for many years. But with problems here at home persisting, does this latest chapter with Syria underscore the volatility of the conflict, and our reluctance to address issues abroad? Is Syria our Kryptonite?

Anyone who has ever taken an airplane flight has heard that part of the safety spiel, where the stewardess emphasizes "be sure to place your oxygen mask on first before assisting your child." This statement, in many ways, defines the sentiment of many Americans; people who are tired of war, the cost in American lives and taxpayer money spent on other countries, when we have so many issues here at home. For many, the question of why we should spend so much effort abroad when we have our own problems is emphasized by the lack of financial security where we live. If we can't even stabilize our own standard of living, then why bother stabilizing someone else's?

The truth of the matter is that issues abroad, be they in the Middle East or anywhere else are amplified by our own lack of stability at home.

It's one thing to watch someone drowning while you're on shore, but to watch a drowning person while you yourself are also drowning is an exercise in futility; the inability to help others when you can't even help yourself. Maybe it's in our mis-guidance of priorities; maybe it's in our stubborn-ness to admit when we can't keep our own head above water; or maybe it's the hero who can't admit that he can't keep up with all of the cries for help. Whatever the case, it's painfully obvious that we as a country are overextending our capabilities at the expense of our own quality of life.

Inasmuch as the GOP is calling for support of the Commander In Chief, my sense is that under their collective breath is the exclamation of "yes, finally we got him on something!", which would be a reference to the continuing Republican efforts to de-value and weaken the effect that the president has on U.S. policies. They will never admit it, but Republicans are happy campers right now.

There is much more to lose in this current Middle East cycle. Problems here at home only emphasize the struggles abroad. If we add another Middle East war to our list of "things to do", both our patience and our strength as a nation will be spread so thin that our limitations and frustrations will begin to show through the "S" on our collective chest.

Even Superman had his limits...

 
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