The horrific chemical attack in Syria on August 21, which claimed almost 1,300 lives, was followed by concerns whether the U.S. will intervene or not. Obama finally announced on August 31 that military action must be taken in Syria and he would seek the Congress’ approval to do so.
Public opinion, however, has remained against intervention, according to several Reuters/Ipsos polls. The American people do not want their country to engage in another war after witnessing the outcomes of meddling in Afghanistan and Iraq. They want their President to look into the issues of his own country instead.
Before the Syrian civil war intensified, Obama’s administration struggled with various issues such as surveillance leaks and court hearings related to an attack on the US Consulate in Libya last year. Though these problems have not entirely been forgotten, they are not getting the attention they deserve.
With the help of online discussions from social media platforms, we have prepared a list of five topics that the American people want Obama to address instead of intervening Syria.
The Benghazi Attacks:
The State Department’s former deputy chief in Libya, Gregory Hicks, testified during a Benghazi Hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in May.
In September 2012, a heavily armed al-Qaeda assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Hick’s testimony resurrected concerns that Washington could have prevented the death of American citizens if the US military had been able to get a fighter jet to Benghazi in time.
The hearing sparked a huge controversy and Republicans even demanded Obama’s impeachment. The debate fuels on, but Obama has not paid enough attention to it since the war in Syria escalated. At least that is how it appears.
The National Security Agency (NSA) Scandal:
This was probably the most pressing issue on the international stage before the world shifted its focus towards Syria. It all started in June when The Guardian published a copy of the top secret court order issued to Verizon Wireless, one of the largest telecommunications giants in the U.S. Issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the order required Verizon to handover all telephone records in its systems to the National Security Agency (NSA) in April.
Former NSA employee, Edward Snowden, revealed himself as the source of the leak and later went on to blow the whistle on other surveillance programs spying at home and abroad, such as PRISM, Boundless Informant and XKeyscore.
Obama’s administration came under national and international criticism for violating constitutional rights, invasion of privacy and the sovereignty of foreign countries.
While NSA remains fresh on the global agenda, it has been sidelined to a great extent because of Syria.
Guantanamo Bay Prisoners:
More than half of the 166 inmates at the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are on a hunger strike since February. They are protesting against their wrongful imprisonment and the brutal treatment they face at the hands of prison employees. Some of them are being force-fed through painful procedures.
“They are killing us, so it is hard to keep calm…in reality I am dying inside,” said Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer. His lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, reported his statements to a UK-based human rights organization, Reprieve, in April.
In May, Obama once again promised to close down Gitmo. He expressed the same desire in his speeches during the run-up before his election in 2008.
Gun Control Debate:
Prompted by the tragic December 14 Sandy Hook Shooting, in which a gunman killed 20 children and himself, the national debate over gun ownership eventually lead to Obama’s gun control bill in March. The bill failed in the Congress in April.
The proposal demanded background checks for gun buyers along with other clauses to curb the sale of fire arms in the hopes that it would curb gun violence in the country.
Americans want their President to revive the issue because they fear gun-related violence may increase if there is no proper legislation to keep a check on it.
The controversial Stand your Ground law that allows for the use of deadly force in cases of self-defense is also an issue of national importance that needs to be resolved.
Public Welfare and Employment
Americans want better healthcare, education and employment instead of more military spending, which would be the case if the US were to intervene in Syria. Here are some tweets to illustrate their sentiments:
If only the Obama Administration viewed full employment as important an issue as Syria and whipped Congress appropriately. #fullemployment— progressiveman (@progressiveman) September 7, 2013
If you live in the United States and feel like adding to the list, feel free to share your opinion in the comments section.