American inconsistency on the use of chemical weapons makes it difficult to convince a bunch of teenagers — much less Congress — that we must act
By Faheem Younus
Source: The Baltimore Sun
11:39 a.m. EDT, September 3, 2013
Mr. President, you and I having a similar challenge: selling a military strike against Syria as a “moral imperative.”
But we have different audiences. You constituents come from all parts of the country; mine from different parts of the world. Yours are driven by myriad interests; mine are simply seeking justice. Yours are young and old; mine are mostly teenagers. You call yours, “the U.S. Congress.” I call mine “the Younus family.”
Mr. President, my nephews and nieces, who live in Pakistan, Canada and elsewhere, buy the fact that Syrian President Bashar Assad should be ousted and held responsible for his reprehensible actions against his own people. But they are refusing to buy the moral argument for the United States to launch a military strike against Syria.
A bit of background: I have been the mouthpiece of American values to my family since I first heard the words, “with liberty and justice for all” at my children’s school, long before I became a U.S. citizen. Hence each time America bombed another Muslim country, I had to stand in for the whole nation, answering a barrage of questions from my teen-aged nephews and nieces via phone and Skype, questions which typically started with, “But how come you…”
I won some; I lost many.
The most recent question: “But how come you saw no moral obligation to intervene for two years while 100,000 Syrians were slaughtered, Chachoo (a loving expression for ‘uncle’ in my native language)?”
“It’s different, baita (another loving expression for someone the age of your children),” I pushed back. “Assad crossed a clearly demarcated ‘red line.’ Chemical weapons are different. Just like a single plane crash is more horrific than a hundred car crashes.”
“OK, Chachoo. We buy that,” one of them interjected from the corner of the Skype screen. “But how come you didn’t punish — but helped — Saddam Hussein when he used chemical weapons against Iranians in the 1980s?” (During 1983-88, Iraq used over 100,000 chemical munitions against Iran and its own Kurdish population, killing nearly 25,000 people.)
“How come you bombed Iraqis with depleted uranium in 2004 and received no punishment?” (Iraqis noted a 38-fold increase in Leukemia between 2005-9 as compared to 17-fold increase among the survivors of Hiroshima. Some researchers assert that children born to male veterans of the Gulf War were twice as likely to have a birth defect as compared to non-deployed veterans.)
Notice how I am held responsible for something folks like you decide, Mr. President.
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