In the News

September 26, 2013

Young people speak out about Syria

Our partners at the KQED Do Now Project have asked young people to add their voices to the ongoing debate around US Action in Syria. To add your voice to the dialogue, visit the Do Now site at:

Here is some background on the Syria conflict, from KQED:


Do Now

Should the United States intervene in Syria if their government uses banned chemical weapons on their civilians? Does the US have a duty to take a stand on the use of chemical weapons in foreign countries?


The conflict in Syria grew out of the 2011 Arab Spring protests, when Syrians peacefully demonstrated against Mr. Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad, as president. This family had held the presidency for 40 years. Protesters demanded democratic reforms and the Syrian government unleashed security forces on demonstrators, killing many protesters and igniting a movement made up of secular rebels who aligned with the Free Syrian Army, and rebel militias, the most powerful of which are radical Islamist groups.

After two years of struggle and 100,000 dead, the conflict has escalated to new level. There is strong evidence that the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad’s forces has used banned chemical weapons on civilians. Last week hundreds of civilians were killed in this chemical attack on the capital, Damascus, which is home to Sunni-communities and Sunni rebels – the largest religious group in Syria.

This breach of international law presents a major challenge to the Obama administration in that Assad’s forces have crossed what the Obama administration has called a “red line.” “We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Mr. Obama said….. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized.”

“That would change my calculus,” he added. “That would change my equation.”

President Obama is considering limited military intervention to contain the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. This would not involve deploying American troops in Syria. The plan would be to target the military units that have used chemical weapons, but would not target chemical weapons storage facilities. But can this kind of engagement work? Can military involvement be controlled in this way?

US intervention impacts the Obama administration’s foreign policy and the path that is being forged. The strategy has been to reduce American military involvement abroad, having withdrawn forces from Iraq two years ago and planned withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. Should the US be embroiled in yet another conflict? Is intervention justified in this case?


What do you think? Add your voice to the KQED Do Now page at:


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