A Response to Jon Stewart on Syria
Article by Nader HADDAD on Now Lebanon
الجمعة 6 أيلول 2013
A recent segment on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show has raised the hackles of some observers. (Image via YouTube)
I have been a huge fan of your show for years mainly because of your understanding of the nuances in both international and U.S. politics and the witty and satirical, yet professional, way you present your views.
Jon, The Daily Show has always been a great supporter of democracy and peace in the Middle East. As young Arab, I am not alone in appreciating your show; it is amongst the few U.S. TV shows airing in the Arab world that demonstrates a true understanding of the complexity of our region.
Unfortunately, I along with a sizeable group of your Middle Eastern fan base have been greatly disappointed by your latest segment regarding the U.S. intervention in Syria. It saddens me to say that it lacked the usual tact that we have come to expect.
First, the whole segment seemed to focus on the neo-cons and their ill-advised approach of replacing the real issue, that of saving innocent Syrian lives, with the deranged macho fear of the U.S. displaying weakness in front of the “bullies” of the world. Your segment failed to mention a lot of well-presented bipartisan arguments that supported the intervention like those of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) (who opposed the Iraqi war in 2003) and those of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Second, making jokes about the sarin gas that has undoubtedly been used by the Assad regime several times now killing thousands of children, women, and men in a cold-blooded way and comparing this deadly weapon to a perfume is to say the least tasteless. I don't understand how anyone would find this comparison funny.
Third, Iraq is not Syria! Although the two Ba’ath regimes are similar in their murderous and criminal ways, the similarity ends there! The current Syrian situation is not to be compared with Iraq in 2003. As Syria stands today, the regime (which has long been an overt exporter of terror to its neighbors and beyond) backed by Hezbollah militias from one side, and al-Qaeda affiliated groups from another side are both gaining ground. If the U.S. doesn’t back the Free Syrian Army and moderate opposition players (who represent the vast majority of Syrian aspirations), Syria will soon become a lost cause: a cake that will be divided between Shia extremists (Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Assad militias) on one side and Sunni extremists (al-Qaeda and the like) on the other. Such a scenario, the inevitable outcome of inaction, would rapidly threaten the security of the whole Middle East, endangering American interests in the region in the short term and threatening the U.S. directly in the longer run.
Jon, as you know more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed so far in this conflict, which, lest we forget, started as a peaceful revolution. The majority of these victims fell at the cruel hands of the Assad regime. I can sympathize with the anti-war rhetoric of U.S. liberals; I protested in Beirut in 2003 against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. However, in today’s Syria, a U.S. intervention will help limit massacres and, far from initiating a war, would help put a speedier end to a conflict that has already lasted too long and claimed too many. The Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian people want to see an end to this bloodshed. The only way to do so is by removing Assad and his gang from power. The United States of America has the power at its fingertips to help enforce the change the Syrian people have so bravely been fighting for these painful years. It must act, not just to protect but to free.
With lots of love and continued admiration and respect,
Nader Haddad is a young Lebanese currently finishing his MBA at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
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