More than a dozen students gathered near the Fighting Stallions statue in the free speech section of The Quad Monday to rally against the nation’s involvement in Syria.
Young Americans for Liberty, a nonpartisan student organization, orchestrated the rally in response to the possibility of U.S. military action against the Syrian government following the Aug. 31 chemical weapons attack in Damascus. YAL members held signs with messages calling for peace and encouraged passing students to approach them and engage in dialogue on the Syrian conflict.
“I don’t think the situation in Syria is any of our business,” said Audrey Zaleski, chemistry sophomore, who attended the rally. “It’s their country, and they have to go through their own development as a nation.”
According to an official report by the secretary general about the use of chemical weapons on the United Nations website, the Syrian regime is thought to be responsible for using sarin gas to kill about 1,400 of its own people, and more than 400 of the victims were children.
According to the same report, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has denied allegations of the government’s involvement in the attacks, blaming them on rebel forces. In the report, however, President Barack Obama has stated publicly there is reason to believe Syria is armed with chemical weapons to an extent that warrants military action being taken against it.
The question should not be whether the U.S. government will eventually intervene in Syria, said YAL State Chair Dustin Brennan, because in many ways it already has.
“Whether we’re there or not, there is a civil war going on, and we’re funding the rebels,” Brennan said. “We may not be militarily involved, but we’re giving resources to the rebels, so we’re already part of the problem.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee authorized the use of limited military force this month at the request of the president, who has stated publicly that if diplomacy fails, the U.S. is prepared to respond with military action, according to the report.
Brennan, an Army veteran, said the two tours he served in Iraq were influential in shaping his views on military intervention.
“They didn’t want us over there (in Iraq), and we were making things a lot worse,” Brennan said. “Now we’ve got people in this administration wanting us to go to war, and it’s obvious that the people of this nation and the students here don’t want war.”
In the absence of a U.N. sanction for military intervention, the U.S. reached an agreement with Russia Saturday to disarm the Assad regime of its chemical weapons, according to the report. It would require the Syrian government to provide a full list of all its chemical weapons and their locations before next week. The weapons themselves would not be destroyed until the middle of next year, according to the government report.
Some opponents of this plan say the deadline is too generous to have any real effect. Brennan said the timetable to disarm is an ineffective diplomatic solution because it is “a long time” in the future.
“The possibility of U.S. intervention is always there,” said Morgan Scott, YAL treasurer. “There’s always going to be an excuse, and we may never know if they’ve turned over all the weapons, so we’re probably going to get involved anyway.”