We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Strike Syria? 'Americans are very skeptical'

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John W. Eyster
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Senator John McCain made a very significant assertion on the task ahead of Obama administration officials after his meeting with President Obama yesterday as reported by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post, “I think they're going to have to work very hard. Americans are very skeptical.” I am among those VERY SKEPTICAL CITIZEN! Are YOU?

I truly am wrestling with whether I think the US should use MILITARY ACTION in SYRIA or work more actively through DIPLOMATIC ACTIONS on SYRIA. What do YOU think? WHY?

I read with appreciation Senator McCain's strong statement that a congressional rejection of the Obama administration resolution for military action in Syria would be “catastrophic.” I encourage you to read Juliet Eilperin's report, “McCain says rejecting Syria resolution would be 'catastrophic.'” NOTE: McCain's criticism is that Obama is NOT planning sufficient MILITARY action to change the balance of power in Syria. Senators McCain and Graham met with the President yesterday to talk about military action in Syria. Both Senators have been outspoken for US military action. McCain articulated the concerns that he and Graham have with hope that they are able to work with the Obama administration to develop a resolution for MILITARY ACTION of SUFFICIENT IMPACT “…to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar Assad.”

Another perspective on the issue of military action resolution being sent to US Congress rather than the President taking executive action is a move to restore the RESPONSIBILITY of CONGRESS to participate in military decision-making. For information with perspective, I ask you to read Charles Lane's OpEd column in yesterday's Washington Post, “Syria, a cause for bipartisanship.”

Lane picks up the historic principle for US FOREIGN POLICY that PARTISAN POLITICS stops at the borders of the US resulting in foreign policy being NON-PARTISAN. He cites the case study of Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg's statement that partisan politics stops, “at the water's edge” so he gave leadership for GOP support of treaties and institutions Democratic president, Harry S. Truman, fashioned to secure peace and freedom after World War II.

After analyzing the dynamics between President Obama and the Congress, Lane asserts, “For all that, Congress should think long and hard before denying Obama the authority he seeks. This would be true even if Republicans occupied the moral high ground with respect to political polarization — which they do not. It would be true even if Americans were not justifiably war-weary — which they are. And it would be true even if Obama were not sounding such an uncertain trumpet.”

“Those Republicans, and Democrats, tempted to vote no need to consider the precedent they may be setting and the signal they would send not only to Syria, or Iran, or North Korea — but also to allies from Jordan to Japan.”

The zinger from Lane comes at the conclusion of his OpEd column, “An official newspaper, Al-Thawra, crowed that the mere fact that Obama felt obliged to seek support on the Hill constituted 'the start of the historic American retreat.' Will Congress confirm or refute Al-Thawra's analysis?

How would YOU vote IF you were a member of our US CONGRESS? WHY?

Another perspective is the MORAL/ETHICAL argument that military action will NOT resolve the Syrian crisis and will undermine the influence of the US for international actions and world peace. Demonstrations have been happening here and there all over the USA as well as around the world. I was interested to see the segment on the Norwegian Broadcasting's daily news summary TV show, “Dagsrevy” showing a demonstration at the US Embassy in Oslo. The chant was, “Hands off Syria. The demonstrators asserted that military action would make the situation worse for civilians in Syria.

If you want to test your Norwegian and see the TV segment, you can use this link to “demo amerikanse ambassade” segment.

There are numerous reports on the anti-military strike debates and demonstrations, one summary source is from NBCNews. You can use this link to that report, “Protests against Syria attack gather momentum.” The report also cites groups which support US military strike against Syria.

You can use this link to read an informative report from USA Today: “Syria strike talk sparks rallies, protests.”

I appreciated Ali Watkins' report published by the McClatchy which focuses on the ethical - moral discussion on this military action. You can read the article using this link, “Missing in Syria debate: Weighing the ethics of war.” What is YOUR stance on the ethical – moral principles of war and violence vis--vis Syria?

If you want to follow general coverage on Syria via the McClatchy news website, you can use this link, “Inside Syria.” I value this news source as part of my own daily review of the news.

One of the numerous statements published by “peace groups” is that by Len Bjorkman of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. IF you want to consider the ethical issue from a “Christian” perspective, I encourage you to read Bjorkman's OpEd, “Crisis in Syria and the U.S.” This is a strong articulation of the Christian ethical perspective of a mainline US Protestant denomination.

I confess, after my reading and careful consideration of the issue of military action against SYRIA, I really lean toward opposing MILITARY ACTION. I am persuaded by the STRONG CONCERN for THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA with the argument that there will be MORE DEATH & INJURY of civilians in Syria IF military action is taken. I wish President Obama had acted more decisively earlier in this scenario with violence of the regime against the PEOPLE of SYRIA. Why did Obama NOT take action when the “red line” which he himself drew was crossed by Bashar al-Assad?

This morning, I stand among the citizens of the USA whom Senator McCain identified as “VERY SKEPTICAL” What is YOUR perspective? HOPE you will share YOUR reasons for your stance. I'll be reading.

Here we go…

UPDATE 9/4/13 8:50 a.m.: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers an incisive and poignant EDITORIAL re. Syria, "Vet President Barack Obama's Syria plans carefully."

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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