September 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm #1342
Many are asking how I would vote on the question of a U.S. response to the chemical massacre in Syria. The short answer is that I don’t know yet.
[Update: For decision, click here to see later post.]
I hope that, over the coming days, enough information will become public through the debate in Congress for me and other members of the public to make a well-informed decision. What we learned from Iraq and Vietnam is that Congress and the public should ask many hard questions before deciding to support a new military engagement.
I am very glad that President Obama has decided to seek Congressional approval before responding. The decision to engage militarily is simply too important a decision to make behind closed doors in the White House. It merits the full public discussion that goes along with a debate in Congress — the kind of discussion in which a wide range of skeptics get to pose difficult questions and all decision makers put the time on task necessary to absorb and consider the facts. Additionally, since credible foreign policy requires long-term consistency, our foreign policy should depend on more than the views of whomever happens to occupy the oval office — it should be based on broad national consensus.
After Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution to make it less likely that America would edge into another war without Congressional approval. As then Senator Kerry acknowledged in debating the Libya conflict, the War Powers Resolution is now outdated. It is possible now for our armed forces to have a huge impact in a conflict within a matter of hours without any members of the armed forces actually entering a country’s airspace, much less putting boots on the ground. Neither the speed nor the remote nature of modern warfare is provided for in the War Powers resolution, so the President arguably has the legal ability to engage our military in significant conflict without seeking Congressional approval and without violating that resolution. Regardless of the outcome over the next few weeks, I will, as a member of Congress seek to strengthen the War Powers Resolution to make clear that Congressional approval is required for optional air-strikes like those in Libya and Syria.
In the case of Syria, there is no doubt that a chemical weapons massacre occurred and little doubt that the Syrian government perpetrated the massacre. Nonetheless, it is healthy to eliminate any remaining doubts harbored by the world public through a full airing of the available evidence.
Further, there are a number of harder questions that need careful consideration in the Syria case. First, what is the principled basis for our proposed intervention? The President has asked “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” A fair question and one that begs an outraged response. But is it only the use of chemicals that merits outrage? Only days earlier, our friends in the Egyptian military brutally massacred hundreds of protesters in the streets. Clearly, it is not the use of chemicals that is our current standard for intervention, because we did choose to intervene in Libya where chemicals were not involved.
I am troubled that, with the cold war behind us, the United States seems now to lack a coherent policy framework defining when we are going to intervene to end civil bloodshed or when we are going to deem bloodshed sufficiently one-sided and brutal to merit punishment. Regrettably, it appears that we have cast aside the ideal of an internationally-based decision making process through the United Nations. If we really believe that we should undertake police actions without international approval, we should at least define a consistent policy framework so that (a) we can explain our actions credibly; and (b) other members of the world community know what to expect from us.
It may be that the international norm against chemical weapons — the widely ratified treaty calling for their elimination — offers a valid framework that we could recede to and adhere to (and similarly draw a red-line against proliferation of nuclear weapons). However, so far, we have not followed that line rigorously — we ignored Saddam Hussein’s use of chemicals while he was at war with Iran.
As we rethink our foreign policy framework, we need to be very careful in defining “red lines”, that we are not committing ourselves to more future interventions than we can sustain. Our definition of a red line needs to be based on a realistic long term assessment of the defense costs we are willing to bear. Most of us feel that our country is over-extended at this point and believe that we need to define a narrower set of foreign policy goals. Additionally, we need to recognize that our punitive responses may draw us into conflicts without actually deterring sociopathic behavior — we destroyed Saddam Hussein, but Bashar Assad seems undeterred. There is a difference between isolationism and a practical recognition of the limits of what we can accomplish.
Second, if we can justify intervention in a principled way, what exactly is the military action that we are proposing and does it have a reasonable probability of success? Of course, we cannot seek a full public disclosure of target lists and battle plans, but at least the members of Congress should be able to assess more realistically what we hope to accomplish and form some opinion of the credibility of the proposal.
Third, recognizing that wars rarely play out according to battle plans, what are the down side risks of the intervention and are they acceptable? What are the likely calculations that the governments of Syria, Iran and Russia will make and what are their possible responses to an intervention? If there are risks of substantial escalation, are we willing to bear those risks? If there are risks of civilian bloodshed or risks to our men and women in uniform, are they justifiable?
Fourth, if we have a successful intervention, then what? If we weaken Assad materially, do we consider it a positive outcome if the rebels in Syria win? Will we merely create an immoderate and aggressive government of a different sectarian flavor?
Fifth, coming back to the President’s central question about the message we send, how in fact, will our decision in this case affect our conversation with Iran. On the one hand, many argue that intervention will send a message of strength that will further intimidate Iran into abandoning its nuclear program. On the other hand, others suggest that our intervention in Syria may strengthen hard-liners in Iran who believe that they need nuclear capacity to counter-balance our dominance in their region.
All of these necessary questions are hard and we will not fully resolve any of them in the coming days, but the decision to require Congressional approval for the war means that we will all give them better thought before making a commitment to war in Syria.
I welcome your thoughts and insights.September 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm #1348
1) We must not do anything that violates international law.
2) I think it would be a huge mistake to launch any kind of military strike that didn’t have a clear strategic objective.
That said, I can’t refute the argument that the Syrian regime should be punished for using chemical weapons. But it should be the United Nations enforcing the ban, and the fact that the UN won’t take action speaks to a problem with its way of doing things.
So my conclusion is that we should not act alone against Syria, and we should work toward fixing the UN so one country (including ours) cannot prevent international law from being enforced.September 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm #1349
I am appalled at President Obama’s decision to attack Syria.
The attack will further destabilize Syria and is likely to draw the U.S. into a conflict that will last years. The number one pitfall in Bush’s Iraq invasion was that he didn’t seek the support of the UN and international community. In the case of Syria, the international community clearly opposes foreign invention. America cannot be effective without international support, instead increasing anti-Americanism and strengthening Assad’s regime. Not only that, the President’s assertion that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons was completely false. UN inspectors are still gathering evidence in Syria; Obama’s assertions could be completely false.
Yet in this case, we don’t even know if the rebels are good, or can be trusted. Many rebels have links to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. In the 1980s, Reagan supported and gave weapons to the Mujahideen rebels, who were fighting the Afghan regime. In the end, it turned out the rebels (i.e. Taliban, al Qaeda, and local warlords) were a world worse than the regime. That’s how Osama bin Ladin got his weapons–and it’s why we’re still fighting in Afghanistan today.
We must not have an Iraq #2–or worse. As Alan Grayson said, “American missiles won’t bring peace to Syria.”September 4, 2013 at 4:48 pm #1350
I agree with Dan Seldman: It would be hypocrisy for us to disregard international law in punishing Syria for disregarding international law.September 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm #1351
Will , it is important to remember that this very well could start the next world war. That said while I do not condone the use of Chemical or Biological weapons I can not repeat Not condone the United States entering into this matter unless it is with joint action of at least the Russian or Chinese forces.
In addition – this is a problem for the people of the middle east to deal with, The United States is not the POLICE Dept. of the World and nor should it ever be. Syria;s neighbors have a responsibility here not the US,
The only thing the US will get out of any action is more world wide hate of our country and the bill for the war – this is a loose loose deal for the US no matter how we play it.
One last thing – how are we going to run a war when our government can not even get a budget approved – take care of home first.September 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm #1352
We cannot play Lone Wolf in attacking Syria. All too often the international community sits back and allows the United States to do the dirty work. If the results are favorable, they say nothing. If the outcome is less than what was hoped for, they ridicule us. It’s about time that the international community “man up” and have a role in this. Either the use of chemical weapons is so egregious that many nations, China and Russia included, join us in a measured response. No longer can we allow other nations to ride our coattails as we put American lives at stake. Everyone must have some skin in the game.
We must also be wary of who would fill the power vacuum gap should we topple Assad’s government. Is Al Queda one of the potential “winners” if this happens? If so, how exactly does that help the United States? The Middle East has been at war with one another for centuries. How does bombing Syria stop that? We have been embroiled in the region for far too long. It’s about time we let the international community lead on this for a change. There might be dire consequences if they refuse to act, but we can’t continue to be used, and then abused, by these same people who sit back and let the U.S. take care of matters for them.September 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm #1353
Thank you for the opportunity to voice an opinion even though it’s for your hypothetical response. For all the reasons that have been outlined in the press and elsewhere, I strongly believe that we should not get involved militarily. I have written our members of Congress, and I wish you were there already!September 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm #1354
While the issue is discussed in Congress we should campaign for the support of our allies. Moreover the issue can be brought forth to NATO. We can show world leadership by convincing other nations to follow us. We cannot act alone any more, we cannot unilaterally police the world in the name of freedom, justice, and so on, because other countries do not have similar values and believe we have ‘hidden agendas’. We cannot act without support.September 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm #1355
Surely there must be something other than the heavy-handed action anticipated. It is impossible to avoid collateral damage when one blunders into a country wielding such blunt weapons. We don’t send the police on bombing runs in America to go after our own criminals. Why should we do so elsewhere?September 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm #1356
As much as I respect your views and your values, and as much as I cherish my own liberal values, your lengthy analysis of the Syria question strikes me as pure dithering. We can raise endless questions about this action, but the only real question is whether it is the right thing to do. If no one draws a red line on chemical weapons, how will they proliferate, first more extensively in Syria, then into Israel, and how long would it be before wealthy terrorist organizations acquire a few of these weapons to use in the West? And biological weapons could follow. Sadly, the only nation willing and able to draw that red line is the US. The UN is immobilized by the Russia veto. Britain was conned by Bush and is still smarting from it. We have to do this. Sure, there is a risk, but look at the risk of inaction..September 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm #1357
I believe we should follow the lead of the president, John Kerry and the democratic leadership in congress.
Nothing is certain in this situation and we cannot know the consequences of action or inaction.
Assad cannot be allowed to use chemical weapons again. The President and the Secretary of State must use all their powers of persuasion to muster an international coalition of countries to join us in sending a message to Assad.September 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm #1358
Thank you for your reasoned analysis. Some call it dithering, but being unsure whether a military adventure of this sort is likely to achieve more good than ill isn’t dithering. I agree with almost all of the above.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is whether to trust the Obama administration’s assertions that Assad was responsible for the delivery of nerve agents to Ghouta. If there is any chance that an opposition group was responsible, any US military response would be more than foolhardy.
I know that’s a stretch, but read this article from Mint Press on 8/29 by an NPR correspondent and his Jordanian associate that quotes eyewitnesses in Ghouta saying that opposition forces there received mysterious unmarked weapons from sent by Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia via al Queda and inadvertently set them off (or perhaps the weapons were booby-trapped).
If that is what happened, either the US knows that and is cynically blaming Assad, or it doesn’t know and is being sucker-punched. Obama is spoiling for a fight, it seems, and only needs a convenient excuse.
I want a representative who won’t crumble under a full-court press by the administration or other powerful entities to ram through resolutions. I trust Will would stand tall, but I don’t have a good appreciation of the sort of pressures to vote with the President that members of Congress are subjected to …September 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #1371
I’d like to clarify that I don’t stand by the Mint Press article, but only think it has raised questions worth pursuing. It was discussed among many other considerations in an informative Guardian article on 9/2 that I strongly recommend checking out. If nothing else, that article demonstrates how confusing Syria’s situation is and how many unpredictable contingencies any intervention would involve.
Let’s not be hasty here. Intervening wouldn’t just “send a message,” but even if that’s all that it would do, the message would be decidedly mixed and no two parties would interpret it in the same way.September 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm #1373
We face a series of lousy choices.
Let’s be honest. Since we (and the rest of the world) stood by for the last 2 years, 100,000 deaths, and some millions of refugees, that’s clearly acceptable. The only debatable issues relate to how we should respond to the use of chemical weapons: If they have indeed been used (highly likely) and we know who used them (likely Assad, but not certain), then who should respond how?
First, we should not respond unilaterally. Ideally, any action would be taken by under the auspices of the UN. If Russia and/or China block that, then a thorny question arises: Should we create an international, but non-UN coalition to take action.
Second, action to be taken is problematic. Under no conditions should American soldiers enter Syria. Destroying Assad’s air force and/or support infrastructure would be relatively easy and low-risk, doable with missiles, but, like anything remote, risks horrific collateral damage to civilians, especially if Assad uses them as human shields. Worse yet, deliberate or accidental attacks on chemical weapons might release them.
Third, and worse, any action taken to degrade Assad’s military capabilities therefore aids his opponents. They are a ragtag, disunited bunch. Many of them have ideals antithetical to ours. This reveals the biggest problem: We should not be supporting either Assad or the various rebel groups.
Fourth, however it happens, we should expect the end of the Assad regime to usher in an era of bloody fighting and civil war akin to the 15-year civil war in Lebanon or the last 10 years of strife in Iraq. Shiite vs. Sunni, Alawite vs. others, Assad supporters vs. opponents, theocrats vs. nationalists are only some of the splits in Syrian society.
We should let the various rebel groups know once more that if they can demonstrate some unity of effort in fighting Assad AND also demonstrate some degree of adherence to democratic and secular values, then we will aid them more, but until then, they’re mostly on their own.
In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes justified absolute dictatorship as preferable to the only alternative he knew, the anarchic “war of all against all” which we now describe as a civil war. However cruel and arbitrary, dictatorship provided order and thus some level of safety, whereas anarchy provided neither. We are faced with a choice of Assad’s dictatorship or a comparable anarchy, and neither is acceptable to us.
As bad as that seems, we still have options.
First, provide aid to the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. They Syrians came with nothing and need everything – food, shelter, clothing, water, medical care – in a desert climate with winter approaching. Jordan is a friend, Turkey is an ally, and Iraq (well, it’s Iraq). All are relatively poor countries and are reeling under the strain of this latest influx of refugees (earlier ones included Palestinians, Iraqis and Kurds). The US has everything to lose by engaging in military action in the region, but everything to gain by providing refugee aid.
Second, with UN approval and in cooperation with the countries that border Syria (Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon), impose a weapons quarantine by land and by air in order to prevent Assad from resupplying his forces. Even if Russia vetoes UN approval (likely), those countries can unilaterally control what crosses their borders. A blockade of sea approaches to Syria would be more problematic; absent UN approval, blockading a country by sea constitutes an act of war.
Third, to the extent that the US engages in *any* multilateral action, we will probably provide a disproportionate share of the resources to do so. That’s hard to justify in the middle of all our economic problems and in the midst of sequestration. To make that more palatable here, the countries with whom we do this should pay our costs. That arrangement should be implemented more effectively than the “international coalition of the willing” we assembled for previous mid-east wars, and which was really a coalition of the begged and the bribed.
Fourth, although Israel also borders Syria (Golan Heights), Israel should be kept out of this. There is enough friction between the various Arab countries and Israel; this is a separate issue. Israel is already doing the right thing by quietly aiding to severely wounded Syrian refugees, who have been airlifted to Israel for medical treatment.
To sum up, in order of decreasing effort and resources, the US should be 1) aiding Syrian refugees and the countries hosting them, 2) working with neighboring countries and the UN to block the flow of arms to Assad, 3) continuing to urge the forces fighting Assad to unity and to commit to democratic rule, and not supplying them until we believe their statements, and 4) last and least, work with other countries to eliminate Assad’s air force.
Aram HollmanSeptember 5, 2013 at 12:33 am #1374
I have two questions to ask:
(a) what will an intervention bring to Syria and surrounding countries in middle east. It is a very delicate equilibrium. There are no clear cut right and wrong between two sides of the civil war. Do we want to create another country like Egypt?
(b) how can we afford another war while the country is still deeply in debt? Is the president willing to fund the operation? I do not want my tax money spent there.September 5, 2013 at 6:58 am #1375
To prevent damage to international norms with respect to chemical weapons,
the proposal is to (further) damage the function of the UN where prior approval is
supposed to be obtained.
Either the chemical weapons stricture is considered worth violating the role of
the Security Council for, or this is not the true motive.
Many don’t like the UN, consider it bankrupt, etc., although the US might
have been better served to have honored its authority one war ago.September 5, 2013 at 8:57 am #1384
First, I thank you, Senator, for bringing a thoughtful consideration to the table. I do not consider your post “disthering,” but rather an honest admission that there is no easy answer. Your creation of the post also demonstrates a continued determination to remain true to your actual constituency.
My thoughts are most allied with those of Daniel Vernick and Aram Hallman. We do not need the possibility of yet another conflict that lasts for years. And how can we ignore the inconsistency of having warlike outrage only now that [probably] chemicals were used, while more traditional destruction has been going on for the past two years without our intervention?
Simply put: guns & bombs OK, chemicals not. Is this the message we want to give the world when it is perhaps only about the fear that yes, chemicals can more easily be transported over international lines into our territory and potentially bring death to our own citizens? Are we considering an attack due to humanitarian outrage or private paranoia? Because no matter what the means of transmission, dead is dead.
Regardless, I don’t think we should act without a consolidated effort throughout the International Community. And I’d also like to suggest a more cynical perspective: now that Afghanistan is winding down, with soldiers coming home and no jobs for them — not to mention a prospective loss in profits for our very robust war economy, typified by companies such as Halliburton, is this not perhaps pressure to retain jobs by perpetuating aggression? Experience should tell us that any “strategic initiative” will ultimately develop into a drawn out engagement.
This jobs issue is not an idle one. I had the opportunity to speak with a psychologist at the VA recently, and her measured perspective that the greatest difficulty in reintegrating Vets and getting them past trauma issues was the lack of job prospects.
On the eve of Ronald Coase’s death (the economist who disdained “blackboard” theorists and who brought the concept of transaction costs into the lexicon, perhaps we should bring a consideration of transaction costs into play. When are the costs too high? And are the monies that would fund yet another war initiative perhaps better put to create peaceful economic opportunities within our own boarders, so that the disadvantaged don’t grasp at a straw to go off and fight in the hopes that, if they return, they might have (nonexistent) additional opportunities?
We have over 20% of our population living below the poverty level — in other words, needing governmental aid just to subsist! Perhaps we should be addressing this issue in a more robust fashion, recreating the US as a positive role model, rather than an International bully. And to the extent that we intervene, send humanitarian aid, not more death. And create long-term prospects for the refugees by once again having the type of growing economy that would welcome them to our shores, returning the US to what it once was: a Land of Opportunity, as opposed to a country of shattered dreams.
To hearken back to even more basic economic theory, true Economics 101. Guns or butter? Guns or butter?September 5, 2013 at 9:53 am #1387
It’s so seductive to think that we can use the excuse of chemical weapons, deplorable as they are, to insert ourselves into this particular conflict and, if McCain should eventually have his way, lurch into the process of regime-change in hopes that democracy will arise. The Middle East is always simmering and often boiling. Do we really believe that dropping a few bombs into this mess will bring about anything but another Iraq or Afghanistan? We need, yes, to develop a more consistent policy regarding our role in the world. But reviving the failed method of putting a toe in, and then inevitably our feet with boots on them, shows that we have not yet learned our lesson. I do not believe we can control either the success of limited action or the potential for further involvement.September 5, 2013 at 10:20 am #1388
Your piece is excellent. I think it’s a close call, but I lean toward a no vote.September 5, 2013 at 11:22 am #1389
I’d like to add a quote I just found on a response to an Opinion in the NYTimes:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
– Dwight D. EisenhowerSeptember 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm #1390
Like at least one of the above respondents, I wish you were already there in Congress.
The majority above are offering each a piece of one truth — the US committing more violence, dropping more energy into this war will not help. whatever we believe about the red line and our right/duty to punish.
War itself is not the answer. We have to respond non-violently to violence, like the civil rights movement, if we want anything ever to change. We need to approach Iran, Russia and the Islamist movements ready to talk, to put THEIR issues on the table as well as our own. We need to act on the assumption, as the civil rights leaders did, that our opponents are human beings and not raging wild beasts, whatever their actions.
We need to stand up to our President and say NO, we do not support your proposal to go to war, even in “limited” form.
But we do support putting the effort and energy into a new, more credible form of diplomacy. And it must be multinational, within the UN.September 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm #1391
My wife and I have watched all of the police actions, military interventions, wars… that the US has become involved since Vietnam. We have also watched the trillions of dollars of debt associated with these actions continue to grow, which is now on the backs of our children and grandchildren to pay back. I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t have become involved in some of these actions where the US was directly threatened.
The president drew a line in the sand that he announced to the world that Syria shouldn’t cross, but he did so without any plan, strategy or support from the US people or anyone else. Yes, the president has now put the US in an embarrassing position, but that doesn’t mean we should go against the rest of the world to protect US pride.
The UN, lest we forget, is supposed to be the organization that handles these types of issues.
This is a perfect opportunity for the US to agree with other countries and the UN and let them address the situation. The US is not the world police force, it’s time we stopped playing that role.
Hopefully the UN and other countries will step in and do the right thing, but forcing our will on the rest of the world, will only continue to turn world sentiment against us.
Jim FitzgeraldSeptember 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm #1392
What possible positive outcome would there be for United States citizens from military involvement in Syria? What possible positive outcome would there be for the citizens of Syria from the United States targeting thousands of pounds of of high explosives at Syria. (Remember the tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by the United States “precision” strikes on military targets during the Iraq war).September 6, 2013 at 6:28 am #1394
A friend sent on this thoughtful piece asking many of the questions above and then asking, given that something terribly immoral has been done, what are our moral response options?September 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm #1396
While it is sad that innocents are being killed in Syria, nearly a hundred times as many have been killed by conventional weapons. Use of chemical weapons has not always been a red line since the international convention in the twenties. Intervening would likely cause the unintended consequences of getting more people killed not only by our precision bombing-(as Assad’s regime has likely based his weapons where there would be the most collateral damage), but by the likely attacks we and our interests and allies would face by Iran and/or its proxies (i.e., Hezbollah). But most importantly it would not work. We do not have a goal other than punitive, for as vile as the Assad regime is, we do not have an alternative opposition that will bring peace and stability to Syria. It is a bloody civil war based on sectarian divide and regardless of our intervention there will be a Syrian government that hates us. Since we cannot really save lives, impact the outcome of the civil war for a brighter Syrian future, and bombing Syria will only show that we uphold this convention against relatively weak regimes at the cost of human lives and $1.4m for each guided tomohawk, we should not intervene. Acting foolishly under duress is not preferable to not acting at all.September 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm #1398
I urge a vote against authorizing military action in Syria in the coming weeks. It appears that a major reason we would attack a fourth country in the Middle East (Syria) is to demonstrate our readiness to attack yet a fifth (Iran) should a crisis arise. As in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, we would be engaging in acts of war far beyond anything related to American national security. It’s time to stop.September 8, 2013 at 9:19 am #1400
While what is happening in Syria is terrible, many things happening in the United States are also terrible and before going off and bring democracy to the world, we should spend some time bringing peace to our own countrymen and women. I am concerned about the rhetoric of “preemptive action” by the US and countries like France in advance of any UN or broad based action, or diplomacy towards a political solution.
It is blatantly misleading for the administration to ask the question, “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” The US did not ask this question when Saddam Hussain did the same thing a while ago because it suited (or so we thought) our policies at the time.
It’s time to be honest about why we want to go to war; if at all. Don’t play on people’s emotions and attempt to sell a war based on pictures of dead women and dead babies when the real reasons are totally different.
The British have shown great courage in taking a vote and saying no to military involvement. I hope the US does the same.
If there is one thing we should have learned from the past decade and a half, it is that being the moral police (morality police) of the world is a very costly and slippery slope. Do we really want to tumble off it again?September 8, 2013 at 11:41 am #1403
It doesn’t matter if Assad did it. We have no dog in this fight. The rebels are not our friends and there is no threat against us. The rebels have a history of uncivilized acts themselves and should not be backed. This is why the UN was formed. I’m sorry our Presidents pride is hurt, but he needs to swallow it, learn a lesson from this, and move on. The President needs to concentrate on the radical regime of Iran. They are an imminent nuclear threat to us and our allies.September 9, 2013 at 10:12 am #1405
Syria has evolved from a civil war to a proxy war with Iran/Russia supporting Assad and Saudi Arabia/UAE supporting the rebels/opposition. What we do or do not do is going to be viewed in that prism. Having experienced Vietnam firsthand I understand why Americans are so war weary and concerned that we will initiate another war in a Muslim country. I would simply ask people to look at who is our President and how he has conducted his foreign policy. President Obama ended Iraq and is ending Afghanistan. Does anyone really think he wants to start a third war?
After the first Iraq war we periodically bombed Iraq to enforce their compliance with the UN sanctions. I doubt that President Obama will do anyhthing beyond what he has stated we should do. After a lot of soul-searching I will support President Obama’s use of limited military strikes against Syria.September 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm #1412
Thanks again to all who have weighed in above. I have reviewed all these comments carefully. I’ve also heard from dozens privately by email or phone. I have consulted experts whom I could reach on the matter and read some useful articles. I don’t feel like I’ve fully canvassed the issue, but I’m clear enough to commit now: I would vote no on the request for President’s authorization to attack.