September 28, 2013 at 6:53 AM
U.S. should stay out
Although I agree with the unethical nature of the use of chemical weapons, I do not agree with taking quick action with Syria. [“Diplomats reach deal on Syria’s chemical weapons,” page one, Sept. 27.]
Despite much evidence indicating that President Bashar Assad was indeed behind the attacks, news coverage has also shown that Russia has reason to believe that Syrian rebels, not the president’s troops, were responsible for the attack — evidence that Sen. Kerry is, for the most part, denying.
By moving on Syria rather impulsively, the U.S. fuels its reputation for quickly exercising hard power on other countries. Moreover, despite this action seeming justified by the human-rights abuses in Syria, the U.S. is forgoing a primary objective: the protection and success of the state.
While an invasion may have quelled domestic paranoia and propagated the Middle East as a place of eternal conflict, resources are expended that could be used for the U.S. itself, a detrimental effect, especially while we are already running on virtual credit.
That being said, the U.S. may need to retire its role as international sheriff and focus its efforts internally, for we cannot give what we do not have.
Nicholas Louie, Tacoma
September 23, 2013 at 7:01 AM
U.S. has no credibility
How is Syria’s alleged use of sarin gas different from the use of Agent Orange by the U.S. during the Vietnam War? [“Kerry calls on U.N. to move on Syria,” News, Sept. 20.]
I submit there is little difference, aside from the lopsided scale of use, between a death by sarin gas and death by Agent Orange. The result is the same.
Various estimates put the amount of Agent Orange sprayed over South Vietnam during that war at approximately 20 million gallons.
Many hot spots still remain; one of the hottest of those spots is the old Air Base near Danang, where I was stationed in 1969. Our superiors told us Agent Orange was harmless to humans. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes a long list of cancerous and other debilitating diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure. Birth defects continue to plague the children of exposed Vietnamese parents and Vietnam War veterans alike.
As a nation, we have no credibility with regard to policy on chemical-weapons use. Don’t even get me started on napalm.
All chemical weapons must be eliminated, period.
Giles Bohannon, Bellevue
September 17, 2013 at 4:41 PM
Not the responsibility of the U.S.
I am writing regarding Syria. This is a problem for NATO. [“U.N. probe shows link to Syrian government,” News, Sept. 17.]
Rather than lob bombs at another country with unknown consequences and no clear idea of who the rebels are, how about a worldwide embargo and economic sanctions instead?
All deaths are bad deaths in war; what difference does it make if they are caused by poison gas or obliterating bombs?
Do we really think attacking Syria will keep us safe at home? Vietnam veterans Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry have short memories. What country was it that dropped napalm and Agent Orange on innocent civilians, and then spent years denying responsibility for our military personnel who were poisoned?
Where is the righteous indignation about Monsanto and other corporations poisoning the environment, oil fracking setting our water on fire, or the failure to contain radiation leaks at the Hanford nuclear power plant?
Concerns for another country’s citizens is hypocritical when we are not taking care of our own. Of course the use of chemical weapons is horrible, but war in any form is horrible; all the more reason to stay out of another one.
Sandra Watkins, Mountlake Terrace
Bad either way
Although clearly a lie, the Russian claim that rebels perpetrated the gas attack in Syria would foster an even greater threat: that the chemical weapons are in the hands of others, outside of the established government’s containment and control.
Angel Hewit, Issaquah
September 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Change begins at home
“This is not a world we should accept,” exclaims President Obama from the front-page headline. [“‘This is not a world we should accept,’” page one, Sept. 11.]
Yes, we should not accept chemical warfare. By the same token, we also should not accept diplomacy through destruction and death.
We should not accept blasting impoverished Pakistani villagers from above with drones in video games made horrifically real, including game language such as Predators, Reapers, Hellfire. A minority of the people we kill are “suspected” terrorists, and the others include children. Where are the news media pictures of those killings, Mr. President?
We should not accept the proposition that killing those children is acceptable because it was done with bombs instead of gas. We should not accept a government which collects and stores communications between all its citizens.
Yes, Mr. President, this is a world we should not accept.
Change should begin at home.
Sam Furgason, Medina
Think like a humanitarian
Today’s headline in The Seattle Times quotes President Obama as saying “This is not a world we should accept.”
What many Americans cannot accept is another war, more bombing or possibly provoking a wider war in the Middle East.
Violence begets violence as demonstrated by the president’s instant response and insistence on bombing Syria.
The wiser response would be to think in humanitarian terms and work toward peace-building, instead of pretending this is a video game and we can just press buttons that deliver drones and missiles.
Kathryn Keve, Bainbridge Island
September 12, 2013 at 7:02 PM
We should recognize the opportunity the United States has to set a positive example for many countries in the Middle East by expressing our popular will on the decision to bomb Syria over their use of chemical weapons. [“Syrians plead their case for, against U.S. military strikes,” page one, Sept. 9.]
The Arab Spring has unleashed an uprising of peoples who have often had generations of oppressive rule that provided them with no chance for popular expression.
Dictators in these countries ruled without democratic checks and balances, and consequently made decisions that were not in the best interests of the governed people.
Free, fair and regular elections are not the only way to demonstrate how a democracy functions. We can clearly tell our representatives that we want military action to be a last resort, after diplomacy and other options are tried and exhausted.
By aligning our decision on military action in Syria with the will of the people, we can show that the principles of the Declaration of Independence — that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” — applies to the United States and could apply to Syria.
David Roe, Seattle
Robert Reed told it pretty well, and, I agree with what he had to say. [“Northwest Voices: U.S. and Syria,” Opinion, Sept. 5.]
Removing Assad from power is only going to create a vacuum which will provide an avenue for a dozen (or more) splinter factions to attempt to fill. More and more civil war will follow. More rockets and missiles from U.S. warships will only contribute to the mayhem and death.
Finally, Secretary of State John Kerry calling Syrian President Bashar Assad a thug and a murderer is absolutely ludicrous.
F.L. Hutson, Seattle
September 12, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Punish chemical-weapons manufacturers
If chemical weapons are outlawed to be used on planet Earth, why are companies still allowed to manufacture them? [“‘This is not a world we should accept,’” page one, Sept. 11.]
Why not go after these organizations and put them out of business? If chemical weapons are illegal, then so are the companies that make them.
Alexander Sasonoff, Burien
John Kerry on Syria sounds a lot like Colin Powell did on why we had to kill thousands in Iraq. [“Kerry reasserts Syria charge despite Assad denial,” seattletimes.com, Sept. 9.]
This excuse, saying that these countries have chemical weapons (or weapons of mass destruction) and that it is in the interest of our national security that we go to war is just plain criminal.
I urge everyone out there to call, email and write to our elected officials, and stop this stupid, unnecessary involvement by the United States of America in Syria.
We don’t even know if gas was really used or by whom.
This country has lost too many men and women in our military on foreign land only to keep our military manufacturers rich and make presidents and their administrations look strong.
Joe Walkenhauer, Yakima
Follow the money
The problem, as Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai so eloquently put it a couple of years ago, is that “They’re here for their own purposes, for their own goals and they’re using our soil for that.”
What all those Middle Eastern wars have in common is Western corporate greed.
As President Obama tries to talk Americans into yet another criminal invasion, remember what the police say, and “follow the money.”
Brian Conkle, Seattle
September 10, 2013 at 6:57 PM
My 10-year-old son suggested what might be a workable, nonviolent solution for Syrian citizens to deter and even survive Assad’s purported gas attacks: an airdrop of gas masks. [“Russia, U.S. raise hope on Syria,” page one, Sept. 10.]
Israel has gas masks available for civilians, so we could ask them how many were required and what instructions to include with them.
The cost of dropping several hundred thousand gas masks is probably less than the initial cruise missile and bombing campaign, and certainly less than the follow-up campaigns that would be required.
An additional benefit would be that President Obama would get to save face with undeniably effective action, which couldn’t be vetoed by Congress or Russian President Vladimir Putin, because it would count as inexpensive humanitarian aid.
There are implementation challenges, such as how to effectively disperse them while in hostile airspace. But a more fundamental point here is that adults seem unable to come up with nonviolent solutions in these situations.
We need to be as creative as our kids when it really counts.
Bard Richmond, Seattle
Voice your opinion
If you have an opinion about what this country should do about Syria, now is the time to contact our senators and your congressional representative.
I did on Friday. All their offices have answering machines.
Let them know how they should represent you.
Mark Wilson, Seattle
September 10, 2013 at 6:54 AM
As a country, we don’t have the resources or the will to enter into a conflict with Syria. [“Syrians plead their case for, against U.S. military strikes,” page one, Sept. 9.]
We are not the world’s policemen. We are being sucked into a mess, and our less-than-presidential president has put us there.
What little is left of our economy will be gone if we get embroiled in another Middle Eastern mess. If we were to do something, it would be more than likely that our involvement would escalate, due to the fact that the administration has no idea of what they are doing.
One only needs to look at the number of plans they have floated at the Pentagon and the stupid comments they are all making on talk shows. These aren’t leaders, they are a disaster.
If we use a big stick now or later, it won’t make a difference; they know we have the ability if we are interested enough in the issue. Protecting this president’s image is not enough reason and acting without all countries on board with their assets is not a good idea. Stay home.
Roger Miller, Wenatchee
September 9, 2013 at 7:22 AM
U.N. and NATO: Step up
Am I wrong in wondering why the United Nations and NATO haven’t been more vociferous and outspoken on the current use of chemical weapons in Syria? [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
It seems to me that they, and other international groups, should be heading up, speaking out and being the collective-decision makers.
Following the Nuremberg Trials of “crimes against humanity,” protocol should become an established worldwide concept and understanding.
Lucille Berkowitz, Bellevue
Cyberattack is logical
The toxic-gas attacks of President Bashar Assad’s regime are without doubt terrible atrocities and deserve severe punitive response.
A ballistic-missile response might destroy strategic real estate and perhaps personnel. The downside is that it is unlikely to spare innocents; not likely to endear the U.S. in the hearts and minds among a population across the Middle East, where we are already detested by many.
An initial, forceful cyberattack on military centers, followed by repeated cyberattacks against other sites to cripple the infrastructure could make the point without direct human mortality.
Thank you, Professor John Yoder, for a well-reasoned proposition. [“Guest column: U.S. should launch cyberattack on Syria, not military strike,” Opinion, Sept. 5.]
Bill Collins, Sequim
September 8, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Step by step
The history of U.S. foreign policy is often of a very shortsighted view, resulting in decades of blowback and unintended consequences. [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
Given this, what should be done in Syria?
We should bring in U.N. peacekeepers to enforce an immediate cease-fire. Draw the lines “rebel held” and “government held” and protect the people inside these borders. Promote self-governance.
Next, mount a humanitarian effort for food, water, shelter and safety to all who have been displaced and for those who cannot survive in Syria where they are.
Then we should prosecute war criminals in the International Criminal Court. Convene “Geneva II,” including all current political entities in Syria. Include a huge dose of nonaligned Syrians, particularly Syrian women, whose primary concern is the safety of their children.
The goal: free elections and a new constitution. Post the discussions online and provide daily Twitter feeds. Allow the Syrian people to make comments directly to the negotiators.
If this stalls, recess for a month, send people back to their constituencies to hold public meetings, then go back to the negotiating table.
Repeat as necessary.
Margo Polley, North Bend
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sarin gas is similar to an insecticide, but much more potent. It’s odorless and, obviously, silent. It’s heavier than air and sinks to the basements where many civilians hide from the bombing of the Syrian regime.
Nerve gas kills or nearly kills all living things. That’s your babies, adults, cats, dogs, chickens, etc. It’s a painful way to die — convulsions, eye pain, respiratory and digestive difficulties or failure, paralysis.
Those who survive can have lasting psychological side effects. There are so few international taboos — genocide, slavery, chemical weapons are the primary ones. We saw what happened in Rwanda when the world turned away: more than 500,000 hacked to death.
I agree with the president. If others are too timid to fight for one of the few international rules that most human beings have been able to agree upon, that fact should not provide us with an excuse to do nothing.
Yes, we’ve made gross foreign-policy mistakes in the past. Yes, there are no perfect options. But to do nothing in the face of moral obscenity would be shameful and potentially dangerous for the world, including us.
Bernadette Foley, Suquamish, Kitsap County
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