A NO VOTE ON SYRIA

The military action being considered by Congress is intended to punish Assad, limiting his ability to repeat the use of chemical weapons, send a deterrent message of the world’s outrage to villainous dictators, and secure the integrity of the President’s word.

It is not intended for regime change, or to strengthen the opposition, or to bring Assad to the negotiating table. The net result of military action leaves Assad free to continue brutalizing his citizens with conventional forces.

It is accepted that Assad used chemical weapons, and that the international community has a responsibility to act in the interest of the innocent Syrians, and of the world community’s standards for a peaceful and secure world.

I do not welcome having the President rebuffed by Congress, but in the pursuit of peace, the arguments for this military action are not compelling.

There will be fallout when numbers of innocents die and become fodder for the regime’s propaganda. The war’s death toll will rise, and the call for more action will intensify. Military action, which I do not favor, makes sense only if the action is intended to bring about change.

Claims that this will be a deterrent to others who might use chemical weapons have some merit, by why kill more Syrians to make that point? Is this really about them or us, and if it is about us, in the realm of our available choices isn’t there one that spares more death to the Syrians.

With nuclear weapons, surely, we are discussing their acquisition and not their use. It is ludicrous to believe that any state could believe that the use of a nuclear weapon would go unpunished. Such an act is so horrific that retaliatory annihilation must already be the user’s calculus.

Not to act militarily, does not have to mean no action at all.

And to use this situation as a warning of potential military action to prevent acquisition of nuclear weapons is dangerous. The circumstances are very different, and each must be judged on its own merit. We have already issued that threat, and to ratchet up hostilities may only strengthen the resolve of those who fear us, to acquire such weapons for their protection. And once that occurs we still have to find a way to live peaceably with them because the alternative is unimaginable.

America does not need another military intervention to show that we are prepared to go to war. We have been engaged in more wars on foreign soil in recent times than any other country. Our use of our military might to get our way, and our disregard for the sovereignty of others in pursuit of our national interests are among the reasons we lack moral force in the world.

The justification of ensuring respect for the President’s word is uncomfortably similar to the neighborhood bully who beats up people because he has been disrespected. What about the Americans who despite their protestation of patriotism, shower disrespect on the President, and undermine the legitimacy of his presidency, for no reason, other than personal animus; tearing the country apart to satisfy their bigotry?

War is always the easier answer, particularly when we are so much stronger than the opponent. It is better for us to learn the price of peaceful response. Assad would have been brought to his knees by now were it not for the Russians and the Chinese. This is also where the world should focus outrage and make it unacceptable for them to support such a regime. This requires creativity, and a great deal of soul searching regarding our own actions in the world, as we use the weapons we have in our relationships with them.

For example, why can’t we work to change the UN Charter such that there is an override procedure of a two thirds vote of the general assembly in the event of a veto by only one member of the Security Council?

The problem in using peace is that our moral authority has to be our strength, and we will be measured by our integrity to our principles, and we keep on finding it easier to put them aside and bomb.

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