U.S. Must Act on Syria | Freedom House

U.S. Must Act on Syria

Huffington Post

by Sarah Trister
Manager of Congressional Affairs

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @SarahTrister

"Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." - President Barack Obama, Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities

"I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required." - Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, in reference to the Rwandan Genocide


The images and videos making their way out of Syria are devastating. Children who should be asleep snug in their beds swathed in warm blankets, are instead grey and lifeless, wrapped in burial shrouds; men, women, and children coughing, convulsing, and struggling for breath; mourners decrying the inhumanity of a government who brutally, and without compunction, targets its own people.

It is tempting to avoid the graphic photos and heart-wrenching videos, for who wants to bear witness to such senseless and indiscriminate tragedy? But the world needs to see what is happening in Syria. Americans, rightly wary of involvement in yet another Middle East drama, should know that indifference has real, human costs, even if they're played out thousands of miles away.

And the United States, as it has in response to so many tragedies of epic proportions in the past, has struggled to find a voice, a will, the way to respond, as we look on, knowing that every day we fail to act countless more innocent lives are lost.

The U.S. is in a particularly unique position to lead the charge. We are led by a President who issued the first presidential directive elevating the prevention of mass atrocities to a core security interest, whose National Security Advisor vowed to prevent another Rwanda, and whose Ambassador to the United Nations quite literally wrote the book on American cowardice in the face of mass atrocities. We have leadership who have said "not on our watch." So why aren't they doing more?

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