BRANDON FOUNTAIN: It’s time to stand up

Doing what’s right apparently is the wrong answer

Years ago, just as the school day was about to begin, my classmates and I would proudly stand up from our seats, face the American flag and begin reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America,

“And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

That was quickly followed with what had to be a rag-tag chorus of “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”

DEMONSTRATING: Ahmad al-Sayasneh, the imam of the Al-Omari Mosque in Daraa, Syria, addresses demonstrators outside the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan. Al-Sayasneh led some of the first major demonstrations against the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last year in southern Syria and is now in exile in Jordan. (MCT photo)

During those early days, those words’ meanings were very minuscule in a world of spelling tests, math and kickball.

Not much later, this country was flooded with a shot of patriotism, as the Gulf War began and yellow ribbons, Lee Greenwood and patriotism were introduced to a new generation.

Heck yeah, we were the good guys, going to get the bad guys.

That’s what I thought.

I’m sickened at how naive I used to be.

I thought this country was all about that sort of thing — fighting tyranny, helping those who are oppressed by ruthless regimes and standing up for what’s right.

A year ago at this time, world leaders from Germany, France and the U.S. argued for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to step down. Their argument was based on the fact that a rag-tag bunch of rebels trying to overthrow the dictator were getting annihilated on the battlefield against Gaddafi’s military forces.

The three countries, under the blanket of a NATO mission, perpetrated an eight-month long no-fly zone, constricting Gaddafi’s military might.

Somehow, that whole “operation” concluded with Gaddafi’s death, Libyan freedom and candy-filled rainbows.

Today, a year leader, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is slaughtering his own people who protest against him.

The Syrian leader hasn’t discriminated — killing both armed and unarmed civilians.

According to reports, from the United Nations, media outlets and Human Rights Watch, the death toll of civilians has surpassed 10,000.

And what has anyone done about it?

Nothing.

I take that back, the U.N. has waved its collective finger at al-Assad time and again, while his tanks have steam rolled through Homs and snipers have killed unarmed children and Western journalists.

When the issue came in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee recently, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the panel that it doesn’t make sense to take unilateral action at this point.

“As Secretary of Defense, before I recommend that we put our sons and daughters in uniform in harm’s way, I’ve got to make very sure that we know what the mission is, I’ve got to make very sure we know if we can achieve that mission, at what price, and whether or not it will make matters better or worse,” Panetta said.

Sen. John McCain stepped up to the plate.

“I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with your statement, you don’t mention American leadership,” McCain said. “Americans should lead in this. America should be standing up. America should be building up a coalition. We shouldn’t have statements like ‘we are not going to intervene no matter what the situation is,’ such has been up until now the statements by the administration and the president.”

This isn’t a partisan issue folks, it’s about doing the right thing.

“President Obama has stated that preventing mass atrocities is a vital part of our national security policy,” McCain wrote later in USA Today. “He has said that the killing in Syria must stop and that Assad must go. If that is the case, we must take action to make those words a reality. How many more must die before we act?

“Beyond the moral and humanitarian reasons for intervening in Syria, we have a clear national security interest in stopping the killing and forcing Assad from power. The Assad regime is Iran’s main ally. It is a state sponsor of terrorism that has developed weapons of mass destruction. It is a threat to Israel, and helped foreign terrorists enter Iraq during the war, where they killed U.S. troops. Assad has the blood of Americans on his hands.”

It’s past the point of picking sides or playing partisan games.

So far, President Obama, the administration, Mr. Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Germany, France, Italy, England, China and Russia are all wrong.

Standing up for those who are unable to for themselves, for those who are politically and violently oppressed by a regime, is the right thing to do, no matter where in the world it is taking place. For the country that supposedly is the greatest in the world to sit back and do nothing is sickening.

Our leaders have done nothing, nothing at all.

Shame on them.

Shame on us for letting them.

Brandon Fountain is a page designer and columnist for the Pioneer Group. He can be reached at bfountain@pioneergroup.com.

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