The thing about Syria is power. How a government uses power. How its citizens understand their government’s power. How its citizens understand their own power. As in physical strength and force. As in the right or authority that is given or delegated to a person or body.
The thing about Syria is that chemical weapons are terrible, terrible things. So is torture. So is civil war. So is the killing of 100,000 people.
The thing about Syria is that bombing is always indiscriminate. Always hits more than its intended target.
The thing about Syria is that its president is a physician by training, an ophthalmologist who studied in Damascus and London. As in a person qualified to practice medicine. As in healer.
The thing about Syria is that the US president hasn’t been clear about his message. That his indecisiveness can be seen as weakness or thoughtfulness, an inability to act or a willingness to consider new information.
The thing about Syria is that it demonstrates the trouble with US foreign policy. “With great privilege comes great responsibility,” we like to say. But how do we define the shape of that responsibility, what responsibility looks like?
The thing about Syria is trust. That Syria doesn’t trust the US. That the US doesn’t trust Syria or its allies. That most of my friends don’t trust when the US wants to bomb another country, no matter the rationale. That most of my friends don’t trust our government not to lead us into war.
The thing about Syria is that civilians are always targeted. Civilians always die.
The thing about Syria is power, how we give or delegate power to a person or body. How that person or body uses what we have given it. When and how and why we try to take it back.