Monday, August 29, 2016

Should American voters feel guilty for dead Syrian children?

A picture of a wounded and shell-shockedSyrian child pulled from the wreckage of an airstrike has recently circulated the internet.  One of my friends posted it with the following caption:

How can you sleep at night, voting for THIS???

Here’s three reasons Americans should sleep just fine at night, no matter for whom (or whether) they have voted for (or plan on voting):

1. This particular child was injured in a Russian/Assad airstrike, not an American one.

2. Even if it were an American strike, nobody "voted for this," because people don’t even have the option to vote for individual policies.  Our system allows them to only vote for packages of party positions, only offers two packages with a chance to win, and gives them no real control over what those packages contain.

3.  CIA drone strikes weren’t even acknowledged as a thing the public could be aware of until the Obama Administration, when they ramped up in use so drastically that the government to no longer maintain plausible deniability.  Since that time, Americans can be divided into two groups: those who voted for Obama, and those who didn’t.  Those who didn’t cannot possibly be held accountable for the foreign policy Obama has implemented.  And those who did can hardly be held accountable either, because Obama didn't campaign on military intervention in Syria in either election; in fact, he marketed himself as the more dovish of the two major candidates both times.  So even if people could vote on individual policies, the closest approximation of which policy they voted for in this case is the opposite of more drone strikes.

4.  Even single-issue voters, who voted ONLY to support a more aggressive interventionist foreign policy, could well believe that such airstrikes save more children than they kill.  Far more children in the Middle East (and civilians of any age) are killed by car bombs or mass executions at the hands of ISIS than are killed by US strikes.  Eliminating the ISIS threat could easily be seen as a long term humanitarian priority to reduce the outcome depicted in this picture.  Some of them may even wonder how cynics like you and I can sleep at night, voting to allow ISIS to pillage the Middle East unimpeded (from their view).

Practicalities aside, we can sincerely disagree on the best way to reduce tragedies without feeling guilty about the remote possibility that we may be wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment