Alleviate suffering in Syria, don’t cause more

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Syria. Heart-wrenching choices.

Many Americans are reluctant to become involved militarily in yet another war in the Middle East. The high cost and ongoing killing in Iraq and Afghanistan give them pause. If we join any of the splintered rebel groups in Syria, where will this lead the U.S.?

Many thousands have died; many millions have had to flee the devastation in Syria. Now we learn that “mothers and children” have been gassed. (Don’t the grandpas, fathers and teenagers count?)

We don’t have proof positive as to who is responsible for the gassing or why it was done, but assuming we get it and it is Syria’s President Assad, if we retaliate with missiles, who will be blamed? There will be more deaths, more destruction just from the missiles, not to mention any retaliatory strikes against us.

Will we be drawn into the war ever more deeply? Will our bombing Syria protect civilians or solve the humanitarian crisis? But do we care? Is nothing to be done?

After World War II, the Nuremberg Trials in the World Court brought to justice for all the world to see, those with the power to order and carry out the tragic killings by the Nazis. Bombing Syria, even in a hoped-for, limited scenario, still would leave in place those with the authority to order more killings, even perhaps more gassing. It would do nothing to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria and in the refugee camps outside its border.

These are difficult times, with policy choices that require very careful thought.

But wouldn’t it make sense to do all we can to alleviate suffering, rather than to cause more of it, and to lead an international effort to bring to justice those with the power to authorize such suffering?

Nancy Ball

Walla Walla

Comments

namvet60 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The President has himself backed in a corner for the Red Line comment and now must forge on to save face. Obviously our allies don't think much of his credibility.

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fatherof5 7 months, 2 weeks ago

As a parent, when you tell your kids to put away their toys or they can't watch TV, if they don't put away their toys do you turn off the TV to save face or do you do it to enforce principles and maintain credibility and norms?

Syria is similar. The point isn't to save face, but to establish and enforce norms. Let it go and you're lost. The kids will rule the roost.

The other issue is that we lost a lot of credibility in 2003 when we touted our WMD "intelligence" as a justification to invade a country that didn't attack us, and that it turns out wasn't a threat to us. We brought others with us, and now they are skeptical of a repeat.

I think the Syrian circumstances are completely different from Iraq. This time, the evidence seems pretty indisputable (unless you are Russia or Syria). The scope is much more limited. And there will be no "boots on the ground." It won't stop Assad's overall efforts to regain control, but if we can re-establish norms and get him to stop gassing his people it would be worth it. No guarantees, but it beats the laissez-faire approach to chemical weapons.

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namvet60 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Everything goes back to Bush? Check this link to the compilation of the WMD's before the Iraq war.

http://carnegieendowment.org/2004/01/08/wmd-in-iraq-evidence-and-implications/1ix

If your memory serves you Clinton had weapons inspectors over in Iraq but the inspectors were turned away or given the runaround to the end of his presidency. There is much more to this story than just GW Bush.

So after all was said and done there was enough votes to go ahead with the insurgence.

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Igor 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Gee, I never realized how “cool” war might be if Obama starts one. I guess the left is suddenly revealing that its anti-war principles only apply to Republican Presidents. But Fatherof5 is right. If you make a threat and then fail to back it up, you lose credibility.

However, I don’t worry too much about Obama’s failure to make good on his “red line” threat because no one anywhere takes him seriously anyway, especially Putin and Assad. The last couple of weeks have been both amusing and pathetic. Announcing you’re going to bomb and then dithering around is not the way to do it.

Then, announcing that it will be a “small, limited strike, lasting only a few days, with no boots on the ground,” is absolutely asinine. If you’re going to attack another sovereign nation then you better be prepared to follow through and do what‘s required to annihilate your enemy.

Waging war on another nation is not about “limited strikes” or “sending a message.” It’s about killing your enemy and breaking all his stuff. It’s about wiping him of the face of the earth with no quarter and no holds barred. Read von Clausewitz Principles of War (1812). Nothing has changed since then.

One has to wonder who is advising our Little Corpseman? Valerie Jarrett? Susan Rice? David Axelrod? The Rhamster? With hack politicians like these at your side no wonder he has himself boxed in. It’s been amateur hour ever since Obama took office 5 years ago.

One of my favorite pop musicians, Bo Diddley, was once quoted as saying, “Don’t let your mouth write no check that your ass can’t cash.” Obama needs to take a lesson from ol’ Bo. Or mind his teleprompter. One or the other.

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namvet60 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Great quote Igor - now it looks like Obama has relinquished the credibility of our power to Russia. From the mouth of the Great John Kerry(?) it will only be an ittsy bittsy little strike but we will give them a week to surrender there chemical weapons allowing Putin to jump all over that. This administration still has no idea who holds the WMD's. They know they are in Syria but who is the aggressor.

This goes to when Obama called Putin a little boy sitting in the back of a school room, well let's see who has moved to the head of the class? It certainly will not be determined with incompetence as we are seeing.

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