The United States: Superhero or Super Zero?

by juliettelg on September 8, 2013 - 6:41pm



Since the end of August, the United States has accused the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of attacking his own citizens with chemical weapons and on September 4th, President Barack Obama has been given the right to use military force by the Senate. However, the mission shall not exceed 90 days and soldiers shall not disturb the peace of the country.


The Senate is one of the many stages the resolution will have to go through. Now, the chambers will have to reflect prior to voting on whether they should intervene in a country whose dictator uses chemical weapons against its population or let them deal with their problems by themselves.


There are a lot of Republicans who agree with the intervention, just like the Senator John McCain. He claims that the United States should go further than what their actual resolution suggests in order to protect the Syrians. He believes Americans soldiers should fight in the country and aim at helping Syria make a government change instead of restricting themselves to launching missiles on limited targets.


Republican House Speaker John Boehner says an intervention in Syria show to the American's enemies that they do not tolerate violence from a leader to its innocent people.


Barack Obama agrees with Boehner and McCain when he declares that staying neutral in this case would mean accepting that dictatorship can go on without being punished. He then uses both “moral” and national security as reasons to attack.


In Canada, the Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird argues that “rational, sane people, freedom-loving people, people who abhor the use of [chemical] weapons” should commonly try to forbid its use throughout the world. This point of view values the security of the Syrians because an intervention would protect them from their main threat: their president. In this case, the principle of beneficence would be executed since the United States would try to stop the harm to bring some good. Furthermore, just like Obama says, the national security is a motivation to attack Syria because they can use their chemical weapons against its enemies like the United States. Destroying these weapons with missiles would prevent the Americans from a dangerous catastrophe. Fairness is also very important to the people accepting the resolution because they would never allowed anybody to kill anyone with chemical weapons. Therefore, they do not accept others to do so because according to them, nobody deserves that kind of treatment. According to the Republicans, Obama and Baird, they feel compassion for the victims and apply the principle of the Golden Rule.


Moreover, justice is obviously one of Obama's values when he discusses the importance to judge and punish despots. He, and all the ones sharing his point of view, believe that the intervention would do good to more people than harm then, a principle commonly known as the greatest good for the greatest number.


On the contrary, Senator Jim Inhofe claims that because of the military budget cut, the American army is unable to deal with any big confrontation such as this one right now. He values the economy and follows the principle of always acting in accordance to your own self-interest (helping another country without having money to do so is not in their best interests). Others like Senator Rand Paul think the investment would do more harm than good. Since he also values the security of the Syrians and believes in the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, he has positioned himself against the project. Two other principles he supports are: do no harm because he does not want his country to get into a violent conflict and do not intervene (non-interventionism) since he thinks Syria should solve its problems by itself.


According to this article, I think the United States should make concrete actions to stop the chemical attacks by Bashar al-Assad. Since I believe in a fair and secure environment for all, I think they should try their best to bring back peace in that country. Moreover, I dislike the idea of a tyrant killing its own population and not being condemned for his offence. However, what this article does not clearly mention is that nobody is sure about who caused the chemical attacks. The White House claims it is Bashar al-Assad but the United Nations are currently investigating. To judge someone for his bad behavior is right in my opinion. Nevertheless, is it right to start a war to fight injustice when the evidence of the injustice itself is unreliable?



Canadian Boardcasting Corporation, The Associated Press. “ Syria attack resolution passed by U.S. Senate panel.” Cbc News, Sept. 4Th 2013. Web. 5th Sept. 2013<>.


The title of the article is what led me to want to read it in the first place. The chemical attack which occurred in Syria has been all over the news lately. Having heard much about it, I can also claim that I think the United-States should intervene. Syria’s population has been nothing more than victims in this catastrophe, thus they absolutely do not deserve to have their right of security taken away from them. We should therefore put the principal of helping the ones in need above all the others and get involved to save lives. If the US army has a chance to stop this calamity because of the superiority of their army, why should they not attempt to?

The situation in Syria is an important global issue at the moment that should be discussed thoroughly. As you mentioned in your post, the evidence as to whom used the chemical weapons is still not conclusive in the eyes of the United Nations and therefore, further investigation is needed before intervention. But if the Syrian government is found to be responsible, I also believe intervention to be the best course of action for the greater good of the people and to keep people from harm’s way. For the intervention to be valid however, I think it should be limited in its assistance and let the majority population fight for its own freedom, for with extended military assistance, there is a risk of over-reaching into another country’s politics in a way that destabilizes the situation even more. How would the situation improve if the country where to be controlled by another political force just as ruthless as the previous ruling party?

I believe that you want the United States to interfere only if there is solid evidence that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has attacked his own citizens with chemical weapons. Based on the theories that we have learned in my ethics class I believe you are using the Utilitarian approach because when there is a tyrant that is attacking his own people, by interfering you allow for happiness for the greater good of the population. I believe that you are also using the Social Contract theory because you believe that everyone deserves equal justice no matter what their situation is (veil of ignorance)
Here is a link to help you understand the theories better: