EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 8, 2013

Column: Consideration of attack on Syria raises many questions


If the chemical weapons are the reason we go to war now, is our goal, as Obama says, just to punish the perpetrator? Are we going to bomb Assad’s house, as we once bombed Gaddafi’s in Libya? I’m hearing only that we are going to bomb airfields: haven’t seen anything that indicates the chemical weapons were launched from airfields. Isn’t any attack likely to kill even more innocent civilians, or encourage a counter-attack that will?

Is gassing them the worst thing that a dictator can do to his people? A UN Commission of Public Inquiry has recently heard testimony about conditions in North Korea: Dictator Kim Jong Un is torturing and starving thousands in prison camps, where some are forced by sadistic guards to eat live rats. If, as Obama says, we aren’t looking for regime change, what good will his “limited action” do the Syrians? Over 100,000 of them were killed by conventional weapons before chemical weapons were used.

If the world is outraged by the use of chemical weapons, why aren’t other countries eager to help the U.S. do something about this outrage?

By the way, even if we can justify going to war, however limited, how do we pay for this? Can we borrow from China to attack Syria?

Vice President Joe Biden appears to be supporting President Obama on this. Yet in Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s War”, Biden was the administration representative who constantly asked both the civilian and military professionals the question, “What is our mission in Afghanistan?” He seemed frustrated when he couldn’t get an answer. Maybe he could explain to Congress what our mission is in Syria.

Sen. John McCain is arguing that there are responsible revolutionaries in Syria who are not radical jihadists; call them “freedom fighters” if you will. Reminds me of U.S. support for “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; after our “joint” victory, the fundamentalist Taliban came to power. More recently, in Egypt, we helped depose another pro-American dictator and then saw a once-stable country so threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood that the military had to step in. Who or what will replace Assad if we get drawn into “regime change” despite Obama’s assurances that we won’t? As Sen. Rand Paul said, “I’m not convinced that anybody on the Islamic side, the Islamic rebels, will be American allies.”

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