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An Open Letter to President Obama Regarding Syria

9:16 pm in Uncategorized by CenterLeftOrg

Dear President Obama,

Obama with folded arms

“If you thought Iraq was rash, maybe you should take a look at your response to Syria.”

My 8th grade special topics class posed the question of whether or not we should invade Iraq, back when the subject was up for debate before the actual invasion. Being that I was in 8th grade, my knowledge of the intricacies of war and politics was minimal at best.  However, somehow I knew it was wrong to go to war with Iraq. This was when I learned what the word “imminent” meant.  Brian Williams used the word “imminent” when describing the likelihood of invading Iraq. I asked my mother what that word meant. With a concerned look on her face she replied, “it means soon, happening soon … It means we are going to war.”

You ran a very successful campaign in 2008, and again in 2012. One of the primary vehicles behind 2008 was the ideal spread across the country that there would be “hope” and “change” with an Obama White House. One of the biggest reasons I voted for you was because I felt like you would be the polar-opposite of George W. Bush. Where Bush created problems, you would create solutions. Where Bush created war, you would create peace.

Peace in the Middle East was something that many optimistic people thought might get addressed by your administration. I was instilled with hope after your election because I thought you could restore integrity and respect to the office of President, and to the United States. I actually thought it was possible, in a sense, to bring some peace to the Middle East. A military strike with Syria would put the final nail in the coffin to this already dying dream.

When you were a candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2002, you spoke very openly about the war in Iraq:

“I don’t oppose all wars…[w]hat I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war….[w]hat I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income.”

If you thought Iraq was rash, maybe you should take a look at your response to Syria. Within literally days of confirming that Syria used chemical weapons, you mentioned intentions of a military strike.

I know its been a long time since 2002, but maybe a more recent statement will draw your memory. Your DNC acceptance speech in 2008 was very eloquent, and included this statement:

I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

What happened? Where did we go between 2008 and now? Have we just tossed out the notion of having a moral standing? Is a moral standing really accomplished by invading other countries who have not posed an immediate threat to the United States? Why has collateral damage become an issue on the back-burner? I get that a lot has happened in 5 years, but you haven’t exactly been a very dove-like President. In fact, you have adopted more of a hawkish attitude with the authorization of drone strikes.

The American people long to live lives of peace, and peace means at home AND abroad.  I am 23 years old. We have been at war for the majority of my life. I long to one day know what it feels like to live in a country where we are not bombing, invading, or re-building another country.

Mr. President, I have cousins that live in Syria. Cousins that I have never met before. I don’t even know their names. All I have been told is that we have distant cousins that live there. Maybe they have since moved away. But I want to meet them one day. I hope I can. Please don’t bomb their home. I understand your concerns with Syria’s oppressive regime, but lets act like adults and not children. Because the Syrian people need some adult leadership, and the U.S. does too.

Respectfully Submitted,

-CC

Originally published on Centerleft.org

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Too Anxious For War

1:10 pm in Uncategorized by CenterLeftOrg

4 pages, 9 days, and dozens of unanswered questions.

4 Pages

The U.S. government released a four-page unclassified intelligence report detailing Syria’s use of chemical weapons from an August 21st attack.  This is the background the Obama administration has chosen to provide the American people, a four-page report that is supposed to justify a military strike on Syria.

Given the seriousness of the situation the United States is currently faced with, the justification for potentially going to war with another nation is condensed to a miniscule four-page brief about Syria’s actions.  This is what we are supposed to be comforted by, what the American people are supposed to trust in and believe that our government is doing the right thing.

9 days

The intelligence report released claims that the chemical weapons attacks took place on August 21, 2013.  Today is August 30th.  It has been nine days since the attack, and the United States government has brought up the concept of a military strike well before today.  Senior U.S. officials were telling news sources that strikes could come as early as yesterday (for those keeping count, that is eight days since the chemical attack).   It took the U.S. almost a month to invade Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks, and this involved an actual attack on our country.

Unanswered questions

What will a military strike even do for the U.S.? For Syria?  For the Syrian people?  How do we justify it as a benefit to anyone?  The White House has not been as forthcoming as many would have liked about its justifications and costs/benefits.

“It’s important for us to recognize that when over a thousand people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal,” he said.  -President Obama (NYtimes)

But when thousands of innocent people, including hundreds of innocent children, are killed by being run over by tanks, shot in the head, and blown up by their own government, this is not something that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war.

Cross-posted from centerleft.org

Too Much Uncertainty in Syria

7:24 pm in Uncategorized by CenterLeftOrg

Cross-posted on Centerleft.org

President Obama is on the verge of making the biggest mistake of his presidency.  If he chooses to launch a military strike on Syria, disaster would strike with it.  Recently, we published a story about how UN inspectors had no conclusive knowledge about the use of chemical weapons.  Since publication two days ago, things have changed and the UN inspectors have confirmed that some form of chemical weapons had been used in Syria.  However, the question still remains as to who was responsible: Assad? Al-Qaeda? Other terrorist networks? An unknown militant group?

We do not know, and its unlikely that we will know.  President Obama, however, seems somewhat confident.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out,” Obama said in an interview with “NewsHour” on PBS. “And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.”

Yet in the very next paragraph of this news article, doubt was expressed by other white house and national security officials.

 However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to describe the intelligence picture – a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk” – intelligence that turned out to be wrong.

Not to sound entirely repetitive from the last article, but are they completely ignoring the fact that, much like Iraq, we have no solid evidence that it was the Syrian army/government/regime that used the weapons?  Yes, Assad and the Syrian government are capable of using these weapons.  Yes, they have done horrific, obscene, and despicable things to the Syrian people.  However, the U.S. government’s sole justification for a military strike appears to hinge on the Syrian government’s chemical weapon use.  And the Assad regime’s direct involvement cannot be confirmed, and a strike seems imminent.  Obama appears to have pulled a page out of George W. Bush’s playbook.

The Syrian people’s interests should, at the very least, be considered when calling for a military strike.  However, the U.S. government seems to be more focused on our interests.  Sound familiar?

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama’s decision on a possible military strike against Syria will be guided by America’s best interests, suggesting the U.S. may act alone if other nations won’t help.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Thursday that Obama believes there are core U.S. interests at stake in Syria. She said countries who violate international norms about chemical weapons must be held accountable.

The UK Parliament recently refused to endorse a military strike against Syria, and public approval of a military strike is less than supportive.  A recent HuffPost poll showed only 25% polled support an airstrike.

A knee-jerk response to a situation that the U.S. still has shown to know very little about could be disastrous.  If he were to authorize a military strike against Syria with the knowledge we have from the news today, Barack Obama would likely be making the worst decision of his presidency.