, Gloucester, MA

September 3, 2013

Letter: Keeping the Syria crisis in perspective

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Last week, President Obama announced that he would ask Congress for a vote on a resolution to make a military strike on the government of Syria.

Predictably and sadly, some Republican members of Congress – the very people whom the president seeks to include in the decision – have slammed him.

Sen. John McCain said the Free Syrian Army was hurt by “White House indecision ... I can tell you their morale has been devastated.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss said President Obama showed “weakness” for not launching strikes against Syria. Rep. Peter King said that President Obama has shown a “clear failure of leadership” on Syria. King, the former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, criticized Obama for sending “mixed signals” to Syria by requesting congressional approval for a military strike.

Let’s put this into perspective. The United States does not face a military emergency. We have not been invaded. We have not experienced an armed attack by Syria.

American lives are not in jeopardy. We do not need to make an immediate military response.

The question involves an ugly civil war in a country thousands of miles from our shores. The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, is a ruthless despot and he has killed his own people. Most U.S. citizens would like to find some way to help get rid of him.

But Americans are justifiably leery of once again opening up a Pandora’s box of military action. We know that a military strike may solve nothing and may serve as a prerequisite for deeper involvement. We saw what President Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, and few Americans want to repeat those horrendous mistakes.

Republican opposition to the president seeking an open debate and vote in Congress is shameless political grandstanding.

Rest assured that those who attack him now would have been the first to howl in protest if President Obama had launched Minuteman missiles without first consulting Capitol Hill.