The bully on the playground

Think back to first grade, when the balance of power depended on who grabbed the swings first, or had the coolest lunch packed in their box. Chances are most of us felt bad for the scrawny kid cowering in the corner but didn’t feel we could do much about it.

Now comes Syria. In this very adult world, chemical warfare puts the stakes much higher than the threat of losing your lunch money. The people of Syria are entrenched in civil war, while the western world looks on, scratching our heads. Which side to take? Who’s the good guy?

It’s just not so black and white on this Middle Eastern playground of ours. Terror is the name of the game, not unlike our first grade bully. But with the stakes higher, we onlookers have a moral need to step in and do something. No standing back quietly with our heads down. Yes, no side in this conflict deserves the full backing of the West, and we have been wise so far to hesitate. But now the playground’s become unsafe for Syria’s children and we must not remain silent.

Congress wants Obama to advise before striking. Understood. The leadership wants to establish clear goals, hesitant to get caught up in mirky waters with an unclear end-game. We get it. Take a few days, deliberate your objectives, and then find the right expression of force to send the message. But don’t shirk your responsibility: ‘The best is the enemy of the good’.

In seeking the perfect solution, America might miss its own mark. Remember, we weren’t discussing imminent US intervention while a regular civil war was being waged in Syria. Only with the recent introduction of chemical warfare, did the moral imperative awaken. Perhaps this is not the time to wage full-scale war. It is more critical at this point to stop Assad, and other regimes, from assuming that warfare is a game that can be played at any level without risking the wrath of the international community.

We understand that America must be prudent in setting goals and achieving them. At the same time, let me remind you that your leadership is needed now – so that we don’t all find ourselves in an escalated, immoral free-for-all that threatens what’s acceptable on a global scale. There’s no room for bullies with these warfare tactics on the playground.



About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies.