By Sarah Praschan
From the chemical attack on Syrian civilians this past Wednesday, to the missiles fired by our President on Thursday, this past week has been marked by international aggression. Many of us have expressed our heartbreak for those who have died, and for those who have lost. We conveyed our outrage. We all shared the videos, talked about the stories, commented on the statuses. But there is more we could do – urge the president to abandon his isolationist “America First” policy, and actually get involved. In fact, there are many reasons that the United States’ people should consider a different approach to international aid.
In an ideal world the United States would be free of issues like insufficient veteran care, dwindling resources for the homeless, child hunger, civil rights and others before we offer aid and intervene abroad. And on an individual scale, putting oneself first does make sense. Many of us have this airplane-mask mentality of taking care of oneself, and one’s family first, and then others. It is natural to think, “hey, I put myself and my family before others so I can be in a better position to help others later, why wouldn’t the government do that?”
However, the government does not have the luxury of thinking this way. It is not a relatively simple organization the way a family is; it is a complex, and multifaceted structure. The government’s capabilities and responsibilities are so vast that if it were focus all its energy on a single issue or target, other issues would intensify, and those who are not the objects of the government’s energy would suffer. A U.S. isolationist policy thus fails to address the complexities of international relations, governance, and humanitarianism.
What is more, America has already set a precedent of intervention and foreign aid that cannot be rolled back. The country has too many responsibilities abroad. Furthermore, to truly adopt an isolationist policy would mandate that all of these resources be left behind as well.
President Trump understands that the U.S. has set a precedent of international aid and intervention. In response to Syria’s chemical attack on its own civilians last week, Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles to send a message that the use of chemical weapons against civilians cannot be tolerated. While “sending a message” that chemical weapons are bad is valuable in the political world, we should examine this crisis in the real world.
If the President had been thinking pragmatically, instead of politically, he may have realized that there is a better reaction to Syria’s crimes than a military response. Just one of the Tomahawk missiles that Trump launched cost $1.59 million. Which means that Thursday’s launch cost the United States a grand total of $93.81 million, excluding the cost of the launch itself, and the manpower required for it. That’s almost 100 million dollars that could have been invested elsewhere. Trump could have adopted a humanitarian approach and added to the mere 18,000 Syrian Refugees (which is almost the population of Trenton, Michigan) that the United States has taken in. There have been 11 million displaced refugees since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, many of whom are still in search for a new home. A better message to send would have been to use $100 million for the resettlement of more Syrian refugees as a sign of commitment to humanity.
So, while we share the videos, and we comment on the posts, we should consider what we are really doing to help those suffering abroad. Do we limit our involvement to Facebook and accept the little our government does, or do we get involved and demand humanity over politcs?