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How I Would Vote on Syria

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Editorial, foreign affairs, Middle East )

- 2112 days ago -
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TomCat S (125)
Friday September 6, 2013, 1:39 am
To a large extent, I’ve been talking about Syria in both pros and cons, but have not committed myself one way or the other. That is because, I consider the issue far too important for a knee-jerk response, a practice that has been all too common across the political spectrum. I have carefully considered both sides of the issue and am now prepared to take a position, with the caveat that I have no disrespect for those who choose the opposite position, as long as they did their homework before doing so.

Lynn Squance (235)
Friday September 6, 2013, 1:47 am
In a Care2 post 5 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons , the following is the final line:

"Is launching military action against Syria the best way to respond to their use?'

I certainly am not convinced that military action is the best deterrent to the use of chemical weapons. But I am also not sure what would be a deterrent. One presumes that those using the gas have basic morals, can see the difference between right and wrong. But then one also presumes that those warring against their own people also know the difference between right and wrong.

I am afraid that until there is no financial profit in war, until there is no "power" profit in war, there will be no peace. I am also convinced that were world leaders on the front line, were their families also in harms way, there would be a greater reluctance to go to war.

I know Al-Assad is in Damascus as he was recently pictured out meeting troops in the city. But where does he return at night? To a comfortable "bunker" with a bed and clean sheets? To a "bunker" where he gets 3 chef prepared meals a day and drinks wine with his meals? I wonder where Al-Assad's children and wife are living? Safely in Britain?

Also from the same article:

"It is clear that chemical weapons are ghastly tools of war, but they aren’t Syria’s worst problem. According to experts, at least 100,000 people have died in Syria since the conflict began, and another 2 million are currently refugees. Of those who’ve died, just about 1,500 may have died as a result of chemical weapons."

Looking at the situation in what some would say a rather dispassionate way, since the weapons have been moved into population centres, even a surgical strike will kill many hundreds or thousands of civilians. How many? Of course that can't be determined before a strike. But not just that, the deaths would be from explosions as well as gas released as a result of the bombings. Are the lives of the almost 100,000 killed so far in conventional fighting any less important than the 1,500 kill by chemical weapons?

BTW, I would also vote "NO" to a strike in Syria. The costs are just too high.

Gloria picchetti (304)
Friday September 6, 2013, 4:41 am
It's better to do nothing than to bomb as far as I am concerned. I am tired of paying the world police bill. Although other countries have certainly helped. But what is that help? Joining us where we should not be.

Past Member (0)
Friday September 6, 2013, 6:28 am

Kit B (276)
Friday September 6, 2013, 7:08 am

This current action is meant to interfere with the capabilities of Syria to again use chemical weapons, not to end or assist in a civil war. Though the civil war is the cause of the current crisis. We have in the past committed to a limited involvement and that has rarely been true.

I have read many interesting possible choices or alternatives to a bombing strike. Some are about direct diplomacy and others range from a partnership with Russia to end all further shipments of arms to Syria to sanctions and embargoes meant to strangle the financial ability of Syria and Assad to continue a war, not to end humanitarian aid. The point being that some very interesting ideas are forming in both the Democratic and Republican parties. That means people are not ready to just say no and walk way, rather we all see a need for some sound and careful involvement. We do not often chose the path that does not have munitions as the answer, it just might be the best path of choice.

I'm very pleased that the president has chosen to have this as an open discussion both in Congress and for the American people. We are war weary, and we are justifiably distrustful. This conservation is messy, it is filled with rancor and fears are being laid open. That is democracy in her finest hour, it's not neat or tidy and we should be thinking, arguing, researching and even questioning our own choices.

I believe this is a generous opportunity to find alternatives to military action, and I do hope we will at least look for solutions beyond what is considered the normal and accepted response.

Past Member (0)
Friday September 6, 2013, 7:27 am
I must say i have been thinking about this myself. It is almost just like the Prssident Obama you are darn if you do and darn if you don't with the exception when you are president you must mantain some integrity which President Obama has. But president Bush didn't and doesn't have any. Now we have a country that uses weapons of mass destruction on it's on people and we as americans are so
emotional and so cold to allow this to happen with out a second thought. Just like in what 2002? when we were attacked with 9/11. Again we as americans allowed Bush/Cheney to lie lie lie lie and why we we so emotional. I do understand why. But we can not let the scars of the Bush yrs dictate how we go forward or we will instead go backward. So i will stand with what ever President Obama does.

Lona Goudswaard (66)
Friday September 6, 2013, 7:57 am
You certainly did a lot of hard thinking, TC and you give an excellent overview of arguments pro and contra striking. Only one thing was missing, and this was partly addressed by Gloria. Have you ever considered why only the UK and the US immediately called for retaliation - even before any evidence was presented? Where does this 'need' to become the police of the world again stem from?

The US may feel it is called upon to police the world, but I'm not entirely sure that this is still the case. Many of you will probably see it differently, but from this side of the ocean it looks to many here that the US wants to retaliate to show it's still in control, that it's still the most powerful, which has a very Bushian ring to it.

The dynamics of world power are changing and perhaps it's better if the US wouldn't strike out on its own again. As you say, it wouldn't do much good, may even make matters worse in terms of civilian casualties and the problem will not be resolved. In fact IMO the chances of a solution through diplomacy will even be slimmer than before.

And don't worry that the long deliberations have tipped Assad about the how and where of the attacks. Assad had started to clean up after himself and has moved his stash of chemical weapons immediately after the strike on the rebels. Blaming the rebels for not agreeing to let the UN officials in to find out what happened, he held them back for a few days an all with all h had about a week to clean-up and put loyal civilians where the chemical weapons were.. Even if Obama had struck out sooner, he would only have killed thousands more without any gain.

Gene Jacobson (288)
Friday September 6, 2013, 11:43 am
"So, which ever option I choose, it is as likely that I will be wrong, as it is that I will be right. Given a situation, where I can so easily be wrong, that if I am, I choose to err on the side of peace. I would vote No."

Well, I agree, Tom, but I was there the moment I heard of the incident, and nothing since has changed my mind. There are a number of reasons though for my opinion. First, and foremost, for me personally, is that I do not believe any human being has the right to take another human life except in defense of self or another. So, I am pretty much against violence as a tool of policy or personal expression in any form, at all times anyway. That doesn't mean there aren't times when history has required people of peace to take up arms lest a greater evil be done - as in the world stopping the Holocaust, for one example.

In the beginning of this incident it was unclear who did what. Even now what I read says we are 98% sure it was Assad, who says it was the Sunni rebels, which makes some sense given that the whispers are Saudi Arabia supplied the ricin. Why would they give such a weapon to Assad? It is Sunni insurgents fighting him, Saudi is Sunni. Perhaps he got them elsewhere, Iran or Russia, I doubt Iran could weaponize it so if Iran has such, they likely got it from Russia or China, or had it leftover from the Shah, in which case WE probably made it. In this mess, I am not sure it is possible to tell who did what to whom. Only when is certain.

What else is certain, to me, is that if the US were to bomb Syria, it would be impossible to target Assad, or rebel leadership even. So we would hit other targets we consider military. But the people of this region are not above using children as shields, indeed it is part of their strategy going back centuries, used extensively in the Iran-Iraq stalemate late last century, and still being done anywhere an attack is expected so the attacked may take pictures and claim the attackers targeted children. I wouldn't put it paste these people to go to bombed out buildings and paint rec crosses on them after the bombings for Al Jazeera to take pictures of.

What I am certain of is that if we bomb Syria, a lot more innocents are going to die, at our hand. We are not, as Lona points, the worlds policeman, though we like to act as if we are, both sides politically are driven by an insatiable desire to interfere in other countries internal issues and not just when genocide is occurring there (which would be an appropriate time for me - defense of another), just to be seen as powerful. Power is a horrible thing, having it, exercising it, wanting it has led to more bloodshed than any other idea because the desire for power is personal, political and religious based, so it is is insatiable this desire. One person or group or country can never have too much because as soon as one has it, one begins to worry about others coming to take it away or to show they have more. It is a male thing and it is disgusting, but it is also our species history.

The strongest argument for action is also spurious in my opinion. This being if someone does NOT act, then other groups will no longer feel constrained from using chemical or biological weapons. A sort of the dam has already broken argument. But WE are still the only country EVER to use a nuclear weapon against another country. The only one. It isn't as if others don't have them. But after the first two, never again. So, I don't know that not acting here necessarily means other groups will get and use chemical or biological weapons. I don't see a bombing as a deterrent or a way to prevent more loss of life and that would be the only circumstance under which I could support action now.

Over the last couple years I've read a series of historical novels by a woman named Jacqueline Winspear, her Maisie Dobbs novels. They are smart, with a strong female protagonist set in the years just after WWI, she begins as a servant girl, but very bright, is sort of adopted by the people she works for and gets an education, great books, but the historical detail is just magnificent. She served as a nurse in WWI in France, dealing with trench war fare and men who had been gassed. Nerve agents, like ricin, horrible, and the books through the series talks about the difficulty those men had in finding work, many were permanently disabled. The books also talk about what it was like for women then with nearly a whole generation of English men killed in that war and no husbands available, how those women had to cope with that, with being the breadwinners, all sorts of issues. England had problems like Germany, the same that led to the second WW, high unemployment, no jobs, and a generation of young men dead or disabled, industries crushed, companies destroyed. Interesting stuff to me, historical works, both fictional and not, is how I got to it. But the consequences of using chemical weapons, mustard gas it was in WWI, led to it being outlawed in war. Yet here we have it being used in a country the size of North Carolina. Does that require someone be spanked? I should think so. But who and how are just not things we can know now and so my vote too, has to be no.

I would support the UN going after the makers of such weapons, demanding they all be turned in and destroyed, the makers punished, but it has no such power and the 5 permanent members are the makers, for the most part, and would veto any such action anyway. One of the reasons we need a REAL world wide government and a world court with actual teeth. Because that is where THIS should be decided, haul Assad off to the Hague, let the proofs be presented and he be tried. That is a civilized reaction. Bombing is not.

Robert B (55)
Friday September 6, 2013, 11:58 am
Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain and France pursued a policy of appeasement in the hope that Hitler would not drag Europe into a war. No one stood up to Hitler at the start and you can see where that went wrong. I'm not comparing Assad and the Syrian civil war with WW2 but in EVERY instance where Nations merely looked on and did nothing hundreds of thousands to millions of innocent Civilians were slaughtered like cattle. Pol Pot of Cambodia, Idi Amin, etc. The US and France stepped in with air strikes in Libya to prevent Ghadafi from doing what Assad is doing now. Our President and our Military command is aware that giving Assad time to hide his weapons sounds like a foolish thing to do. But is it really? We forced Assad to move his weapons and by doing so exposing them to spying operations. Who knows what all is going on that we don't know about. If his air force and missile sites are destroyed and maybe his tanks, that's all that would have to be done. He would then be limited and know it. We can't settle this civil war but we could at least try to bring a monster like Assad to the realization that a leader DOES NOT MURDER women and children. It's a tough decision, do NOTHING and watch as Assad has a free hand at slaughter or do SOMETHING and make him think twice about murder. Either way, the world will have to live with it. However it ends, Assad is a WAR CRIMINAL.

David C (75)
Friday September 6, 2013, 12:04 pm
very thoughtful, Tom.....for me it would be much easier, but IT WAS THE WORLD COMMUNITY that essentially outlawed chemical weapons at the 1925 Geneva Convention and followed this by a 1993 accord banning them.......if we don't act to follow-up already weak "international law/rules" what stops anyone, anytime........

I hate the idea of war....war + war does not mean peace........I don't think I would have minded a quick strike at chem weapons targets, but the longer its delayed the less likely this can thought is/was that Mr. Obama is being tough trying to get the Russians (and or Chinese) to push Assad to the negotiating table, but I don't know................

I lean towards no strike, since US/allies not directly attacked yet....i.e. Alan Grayson arguments.....however, I have no definites.........yet...but I believe Mr. Obama/Kerry much more than I ever believed BushCheneyRummy, Putin, Limbarf, etc........

Chris C (152)
Friday September 6, 2013, 12:25 pm
I'm with Mamabear claw and Dave C. OBama was one of the few Senators to vote against the Iraq war. I believe he knows exactly what he is doing and would NEVER make the same mistake as those idiots Bush/Cheney.

Malgorzata Zmuda (202)
Friday September 6, 2013, 12:36 pm

Carrie B (306)
Friday September 6, 2013, 12:39 pm
I have mixed feelings about this situation ~ as do many others. On one hand I do not want our bombs killing more innocents ~ neither do I think it is right to ignore Assad's very Hitler like behavior. He seems quite confident that he is immune to the consequences of his actions. Perhaps it is time for someone to step in and say enough! Hitler had free reign for much too long and look what happened. Staying out of the fray may not be the morally ethical thing to do.

This is not Iraq and Obama is not Bush. I believe Obama and I believe Kerry. They have no personal agenda as did Bush/Cheney.

Past Member (0)
Friday September 6, 2013, 12:43 pm
The President, like both the Democrats and the Republicans, has always espoused the principles of extreme free market capitalism and American imperialism, such principles lead to policies of exploitation, endless war, and devastation of the environment. Syria has not threatened its neighbors nor is it a threat to its neighbors. Syria is, however, engaged in a bloody civil war against a brutal jihadist opposition. The rebel forces, which include both Al-Qaeda and Jabhat Nusra, have been implicated in the most recent chemical attack as well as other atrocities. We are at serious risk of replacing a brutal regime with another brutal regime. One thing is certain: this war will NOT be about "humanitarian intervention;" dropping bombs on people is no way to save them. This war is about controlling the natural gas pipeline that runs through Syria. Our President is like any other corporate tool in the two party sham: he knows exactly what he is doing. Big Oil and Gas will be happy. Weapons manufacturers will be happy. Bankers will be happy. And the rest of us be damned.

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday September 6, 2013, 2:04 pm
Noted. I have no mixed feelings. I feel terribly sad for those who lost their lives, but firmly believe U.S. military intervention will only cause so many more deaths of always does. So, my vote is "no." PEACE BUILDS. WAR DESTROYS. Thanks, Tom.

pam w (139)
Friday September 6, 2013, 3:12 pm
Thanks, Tom....carefully thought out and very sensible. Like you, I'm imagining convoys of weapons being moved about in Syria. Any idiot would know to put them into hospitals, schools and churches.

Sheri Schongold (7)
Friday September 6, 2013, 3:38 pm
I am beginning to think that it is time for America to keep it's nose out of the Middle East altogether. We are pouring millions of $$ into these battles. It is money we don't have and when we do stick our nose in, the Middle East and many other nations don't appreciate it. They want only our money. That's the only use they have for the USA. Otherwise they hate us. Let's keep our nose and our money at home.

Ruby S (44)
Friday September 6, 2013, 3:48 pm
The United States has always been a super power, and someone somewhere is going to find a way to attack us again. And the US has always been hated, so we leave ourselves open for the same kind of attack that is happening to the people of Seria. There have always been wars and the rumors of wars, that goes unsaid, there always will be. The world is looking at the US because we have always led. Now Bush has led this country to hell and back. But make no mistake, if we don't show a source of strength, we a re in trouble, there are too many hate groups, and too many who have vilified our President, and now they see this, and will surely strike somewhere here in US. Now is not the time to get cold feet, this is a different situation, and if that man gas his own people with no feeling, what do you think he will do to our people?, while you're sleeping?

Ruby S (44)
Friday September 6, 2013, 4:04 pm
It is not impossible to get Assad, we got Bin Laden...and we have technology to help us see where things are, if we have the capability to look inside a house with helicopters, or to have airplanes that stop in mid air, I think we will find the weapons. And I am not war weary, Bush put people to sleep, but I for one was watching. People didn't protest like they are doing now, I wonder why... when they stole the votes no one said anything, no marches, no nothing. Then, 9/11, that woke everyone up, and the Bush administration knew, but did nothing. Ring a bell?. This is serious, GAS? That's speaks Nazi to me.. Hitler. And if they strike us, it will surely be in the dark....We have the force with no boots on the ground. To know where your enemy is and where he's going, that is The United States, yes war is hell, but to do nothing is for the enemy to think that The United States is, at the very least, cowardice...

Yvonne White (229)
Friday September 6, 2013, 4:29 pm
In a "Civil War" like Syria, I think the people involved should be the ONLY ones using weapons of Any kind. The people are the only ones at risk, the only ones with anything to gain or lose, and it's their freakin' country! I just wish independent nations would allow their own people to Decide how they're to be governed. I vote NO, Hell NO..because I don't believe most of the "intelligence" pushed on the President, I don't believe America should keep interfering in other countries' "personal problems", and we have Enough "
personal Problems" of our Own!

I would however, vote to bomb Wall $treet – just because… jack-boots on the ground optional, pot-smoke to clear the buildings First (or last..what-ever)..


marie T (163)
Friday September 6, 2013, 5:05 pm
I hear you all about Assad but sadly there are plenty of Assads all over the Arab world
I usually do not even comment because all I see are more Muslim countries killing each other
Where the hell do we start.
I feel USA is in a non win situation and I feel sad about that whatever they decide someone will blame Obama
I really would not like his job

Kit B (276)
Friday September 6, 2013, 6:13 pm

I'm really impressed by the careful and thoughtful comments left here. TC you brought out the best with your request for informed comments.

Though Yvonne may be on to something there, bomb Wall Street "Caveat Venditor" let the seller beware.

patrica and edw jones (190)
Friday September 6, 2013, 7:16 pm
We have to make sure - beyond the shadow of doubt - that the Assad regime alone - is responsible for these attrocities - and from what I have heard, seen on the TV last night where the Rebels shot 7 soldiers in the head at point blank range - both sides are culpable in this war of attrition and we, in the west - should stay out of it. The innocent are always the first casualties in any war.

Scott haakon (4)
Friday September 6, 2013, 7:22 pm
I vote no. Americans think every one is like them. The poison of political correctness and multiculturalism has warped reality. These people take it very personally with clan,tribe and sect. The rebels are from everywhere too. It is best that the US stay out of this. Obama want to be a hero.

James Maynard (84)
Friday September 6, 2013, 8:57 pm
TC, well thought out and it is still complicated.
I think we need to do more on the diplomatic
and International Court side before lobbing
missiles. Where are the other 140 signers
of the Chemical Weapons Ban??? Why do
we always have to do this alone????

Edith B (146)
Friday September 6, 2013, 9:27 pm
Thanks, TC, and thanks for all the thoughtful responses above. I vote no. I don't believe our intervention will help the Syrian people and I do believe it will further harm the US. We are all ready bankrupt from the two Bush wars.

Sue Clayton (8)
Friday September 6, 2013, 11:16 pm
The likening of the U.K and U.S.A is because the dominant society of the U.S has UK heritage. We all know how Gt Britain wanted to take over the world by sending ships out to "discover" other countries that they could inhabit, with no concern for those already living there. The UK "took over" a number of countries and America was one of them. I see this as the reason why the US believes it the forerunner of all countries. Jumping into another country's war does absolutely NO good, as proved in Vietnam and others to follow. Adults who are Heads of Country NEED to LEARN to sit together and LISTEN to each other's problems. The only REAL help that can be given is in COMMUNICATION = LISTENING, HEARING and HELPING TO SOLVE PEACEFULLY.

TomCat S (125)
Saturday September 7, 2013, 2:22 am
Thanks to all except the person, who used this as an occasion to push the equivalence lie. The parties are NOT equivalent. one is imperfect, but cares about people. The other has no sense of decency and cares only about money and power.
Kudos to virtually everyone else,

fly bird (26)
Saturday September 7, 2013, 2:46 am
The NY Times that recently published the photograph of soldiers kneeling on the ground, and a firing squad, released today that the photo was from 2012.

Carrie B (306)
Saturday September 7, 2013, 3:31 am
May I add that while I have mixed feelings on the subject of an attack on Syria ~ I have a son who is career military and has served in Iraq, and returned from a tour in Kuwait earlier this year. The thought of him or any of our troops being sent off to yet another war is more than I can bear.

Carlene V (202)
Saturday September 7, 2013, 7:32 am
I believe Obama and Kerry, I believe they are telling the truth but they surely are not telling us everything. The fact that we told Assad we were coming after him could have been a way to threaten him, I hope so anyway. The loss of lives, the pictures of the little children and adults dead from the gasses remind me how lucky we are to live here. If we bomb, we will only hurt ourselves in the long run as surely Assad will do more to show his strength. I want to scrape his eyes out for what he did and has done but it will not solve anything, it will lead us down a path we don't want or need to go. We should not bomb anyone unless we are attacked no matter how hard it is to turn the other cheek. It is past time to fluff our feathers and try and show the world how strong we are, it in the long run, has made us weaker. No to any retaliation that will only kill more Syrians.

marie T (163)
Saturday September 7, 2013, 5:56 pm
I like your ideas Sue Clayton but unfortunately while you are listening and talking they are shooting innocent people in the head I think we have to be a bit more realistic
Beautiful caring idea

TomCat S (125)
Sunday September 8, 2013, 1:58 am
Thanks everyone.
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