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Where Motivations meet Morals

According to Eric Garris of the website AntiWar.Blog, Oklahoma state representative Paul Wesselhöft will be leading an anti-war rally on the south steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The event will be hosted Friday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m. and the public is invited. Wesselhöft mentioned that the theme of aforementioned rally will reflect those who oppose U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war and that the event will be bipartisan in nature.

The backlash from this bipartisan group comes from a report that the Obama administration has considered arming the rebel forces in Syria who continue to fight President Bashar Assad. Understandably, the United States has some interest in arming the rebels, yet are the views of individuals like Wesselhöft reasonably cautious at permitting our foothold in a civil war?

The topic that sticks with me the most is the motivations of both the bipartisan group and the Obama administration. Is their moral compass simply a veiled capitalism seeking to spend or conserve resources in order to net the greatest profit? If so, is this a good or a bad thing? Should our foreign policy be all about keeping our foothold as the military and economic leaders of the globe?

What I have noticed as I learn more about the Obama administrations stance on the Syrian civil war is the guise that comes from their somewhat humanitarian response to the war. Evidence and reports show that the Syrian government has used chemical warfare against their people and the rebels, killing hundreds of people.

While it is noble to defend a people who have been mistreated, it seems a bit misguided to assume that the Obama administration is only invested to provide aid. Like most contemporary United States politicians, Boehner made the all too often disguise that “the United States has a strategic interest in what happens in Syria. We all would like to see Assad go. We’d also like to see a democratically elected government there. . . . And so for our interest and to support our allies in the region, I’m going to continue to work with the president on responsible steps that can take to protect our interests.”[1] Notice that Boehner is quite vague about the specific interests of the administration. Boehner also implanted a subtle rhetorical device that disguises his motivation for action.

Boehner used a tool I like to call the classical modernization approach. It is quite simply really. The masses of the United States are infatuated with democracy. We feel it is the utmost pinnacle of government. Thus we must impart our glorious perfect government on all lowly governments who are in turmoil.

It is a perfect disguise to seem like the administration stands for a humanitarian approach. The “inhumane” Syrian government (don’t get me wrong I am against war crimes, etc., but I am using sarcasm to make a point about the motivations and argument style of the Obama administration) is entirely the target of the argument. The administration seeks to topple the government hoping that they can impart a new democracy, one that they can control with money, weapons bribes and trade deals. From our standpoint (solely based on press conferences with the administration), it seems as though the Obama administration is driven out of good morals; they seem to want to help the innocent and aid the needy, but in reality, their motivations are driven out of greed. The U.S. government only sees fit to set up democracy in locations that can provide us with resources. Syria has now been added to the list of countries the U.S. is trying and has tried to set up democracy with the disguise of a humanitarian motivation.

Thus the question arises here, do we stand by a government who invests in war in order to provide oil for the U.S. (at the expense of the lives of foreign citizens), or do we stand by a government who acts justly and provides aid, not weapons? Is morality as a political motivation entirely lost?

The cynic in me holds to the stance that the U.S. politicians only seek to feed their own pocketbooks and the bank accounts of their backers. I see not only the Obama administration backing oil production in foreign countries, but I also see the bipartisan group hoping to save money by not engaging in war with Russia.

Wesselhöft said, “The U.S. has no political or moral obligation to intervene in Syria’s intractable civil war. It’s none of our business….Our involvement in shipping arms to the Syrian rebels commits us to a proxy war with Russia. This is not good, not wise, not acceptable, so we object.”[2] My only question to clarify Wesselhöft’s statement is whether or not he thinks we should provide aid to the Syrian people facing turmoil in their civil war. If he is all for “moral obligations” does he see it fit for us to aid the innocent, or is he simply hoping to save money by not engaging in another costly war that drives our economy down?

As much as I want to believe that some politicians have still held fast to their moral obligations, when I see anti-war and pro-war debates, I am convinced that a majority of arguments seemingly defending the consistent life ethic are somehow tainted with a utilitarian economic twist hiding beneath the blood of the innocent, the wrath of dictators, and the promise of a new tomorrow in democracy.



[1.] “Lawmakers to stall arming Syrian opposition, as CIA presses ahead.” < >

[2.]Garris, Eric “Oklahoma Republican Lawmaker Organizes Anti-war Rally at State Capitol.” 19 Jun. 2013. < >


Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

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