Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Syria: A Major Foreign Policy Issue

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For the past 18 months, Syria has been engulfed by a bloody civil war between the government and revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the government. The world has had its attention on Syria for the past year since civilians are dying in the fighting.

However, the world has yet to do anything to help the Syrian rebels besides imposing sanctions on Syria. Many Republicans in the U.S. have argued for either arming the Syrian rebels or fully intervening in the country, but nothing has been done yet. Syria has divided Republicans and Democrats in the U.S., and has been a constantly resurging issue in the presidential campaign.

Currently, the U.N. has been using humanitarian funds to assist refugees fleeing from the country. Some estimates say that about 500,000 refugees have fled the country, and by the end of the year it may be up to 700,000. What will the U.S. do to help these people who are fighting for freedom in Syria?

The Start of the Conflict

The Syrian “Civil War” began about 18 months ago when citizens began to arm themselves and fight against the Syrian government. It was sparked by the unrest appearing throughout the entire Middle East last year. Beginning with a man setting himself on fire in Tunisia, revolutions to overthrow dictatorships in the Middle East arose in several countries.

Now, the government is massacring citizens, as President Bashar al-Assad is trying to keep his regime alive. The government claims that it is fighting terrorists who are threatening the government. However, it has been proven by several journalists that the “terrorists” the government is fighting are normal citizens fighting to overthrow an oppressive regime.

Obama’s Response

President Obama has continued to apply more pressure to Syria as the violence increases in the country. When the conflict first began last year, Obama did not take a position on the issue of Syria. Eventually, he condemned the violence in the country, and then issued sanctions against Syria.

Now, as the election continues and the issue of Syria grows more intense, Obama has taken a tougher stance. He recently said that if chemical weapons are used in the country against citizens, American forces will intervene to stop Assad. However, Obama has refused to intervene in the country under any other circumstances, and will not offer any form of aid to the Syrian opposition groups.

Romney’s Proposed Response

Romney has recently taken the issue of Syria seriously, criticizing President Obama for not responding strongly enough to the growing violence. Romney’s solution would be to arm the Syrian opposition groups that are fighting against the government. This is something that the President has consistently refused to consider an option in dealing with Syria.

Furthermore, Romney claims that Obama has been sitting on the sidelines on the issue of Syria. According to Romney and other Republicans, anything less than full support to the opposition groups makes the United States look weak. However, both candidates do agree that democracy in the Middle East is a desirable goal.

Although foreign policy has not been a major topic of the election, the Romney campaign has been trying to criticize President Obama on foreign policy more and more. The final presidential debate will be held Monday, October 22, and the topic will be foreign policy. This will make sure foreign policy is covered in the presidential race, so it will be an important debate to watch two weeks before Election Day.

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