Historians agree that World War III began when America invaded Syria.
That's a line I hope my children never have to read when they enter high school in ten years. And hopefully with Obama's September 10 address, I can breath a bit easier. While the world -- i.e. the United States and France -- determine Syria's fate, innocent Syrians continue to die. While nations furiously denounce the barbarism of Syria's chemical weapon use -- ignoring Iraq's, America's, & Israel's chemical weapon use -- innocent Syrians continue to die. And while the debate continues on the proper way to intervene in Syria -- ignoring established international UN protocol -- innocent Syrians continue to die.
The United States continues its attempt to make the moral argument behind a "surgical" strike. We've heard this term before with America's drone program, one that has "surgically" killed at least 178 civilians -- many of them children. Meanwhile, pundits claim Nobel Peace laureate President Obama "must strike" or risk being viewed as "weak." And perhaps this is the great lie causing the world to once again find itself on the brink of world war.
This lie tells us that diplomacy is weakness, and violence is strength. That power is not in raising our ideals of justice but in raising our voices of anger. That flexing our muscles is more important and effective than flexing our principles. These lies stem from a worldwide violation of justice and consume any hope of peace.
Yes, the world must act to prevent future chemical warfare or innocent Syrians will continue to die. But a dash of sobriety here goes a long way. Syria is already a volatile nation and chemical weapons were undoubtedly used as a sign of desperation. To intervene violently will only add to that desperation, and quite effectively ensure a more aggressive chemical response on both Syrian civilians and American military. That trigger accelerates the chances of escalating into an even more violent regional and potentially world war.
And now Russia has entered the arena. At best, Russia's efforts help Obama save face, but the issue remains serious. If Syria is not held accountable for her atrocities, the world submits to the idea that murdering is okay as long as you can appease a major world power. And perhaps this is unfortunately true, but this "okay killing" is destined to spill into a wider international conflict.
This should remind us that one of the United Nations' fundamental purposes is to resolve international conflict. Diplomacy, especially in this volatile situation, is not weakness, but strength. Syria is an opportunity to build a UN coalition to work towards a diplomatic solution. This coalition will only be successful, however, if it is built on the tenets of justice -- not economic interests.
While the U.S. can lead by pushing for a negotiated settlement, justice dictates that Syria's neighbors -- not Western nations -- lead the UN coalition. The right coalition is the difference between success and failure. Imagine if rather than Canada or Mexico, China and Russia intervened in America's immigration debate or border control issues. After all, nearly 500 people die annually attempting the international cross into America from Mexico. How would Americans react to Chinese intervention on an American/Mexican issue?
But the question remains -- are we interested in justice-based peace? Perhaps Jon Stewart said it best, "If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values: they're hobbies." Unilateral invasion -- sorry, surgical strikes -- or threat of invasion, are not part of the UN's established protocol to resolve international conflicts. If the United States does not uphold the UN's justice based protocol, we send the clear message that upholding justice is our hobby, not our value.
None of this should be news to Europe or America. For the better part of the past decade, His Holiness, the Khalifa of Islam and head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is the only international Muslim leader to warn world leaders that their actions are creating the conditions for another world war. In the past 18 months His Holiness has spoken on U.S. Capitol Hill, in the British House of Lords, and before European Parliament, imploring powerful nations to employ justice, instead of manipulation of weaker nations.
Today innocent Syrians continue to die but we have the power to not only stop their suffering, but also avert future death and destruction of billions worldwide. We have an opportunity to re-write the future. I can only hope that when my young children enter high school their history books read, "America took the lead in upholding justice and helped resolve the Syrian conflict peacefully."
Syrians have suffered untold horrors, it is time the world gave them justice, not violence.
Qasim Rashid, Esq. is a National Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and author of The Wrong Kind of Muslim. Follow him on Twitter @MuslimIQ
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