Topic: bashar assad
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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 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 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
September 7, 2013 at 7:56 AM
I write as one US citizen of many who stands strong against U.S. strikes in Syria. [“U.S. may set up training Syrian rebels,” page one, Sept. 6.]
President Obama, give me my hope back. I do not stand with your decision to destroy the lives of Syrians.
I am speechless as I remember when we heard the news in Chicago and I stood with you when I traveled to Washington, D.C. and chanted “we are one” on the morning of your inauguration.
Now I watch as you decide to commit acts of war. As an African-American woman, I must speak out and state that in these days of U.S. strikes, never-ending days of Guantánamo, in these days where 1 in every 3 African-American men are likely to be incarcerated during their lifetime, your home-sweet-home Chicago public schools close and an economy that seems to continue to shrink, I wait for that feeling of hope to return.
In these days, I realize it is up to me to keep you accountable, as you stated when elected. Yet, where to begin? We, the American people, do not support this strike.
As history will tell its own story, I will, at the very least, be able to say that when I felt hopeless, I spoke out, if only in the margins of this paper, to shout out loud that I stand for peace, not war. I stand for justice, not killing. I stand for hope, not destruction.
My heart and prayers reach out to the people of Syria in peace on this day as I raise my hands and cry out, why has our government acted once again in the name of destruction and murder with the rhetoric of peace and stability?
Catron Booker, Seattle
Courses of action
The ideal is a U.N.-authorized punishment of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime for gassing his people, effected by whomever is willing.
However, this is likely to be blocked by Russia and China, just as the U.S. blocks U.N. sanctions against the illegal actions of Israel.
We should advocate talks toward the remaking of Syria. The talks should be sponsored by six major and equal sponsors: the U.S., Russia, France, Turkey, Iran and the Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia).
The practical thing would be a coalition of NATO and Arab countries supporting punishment of Assad, to be effected by a subset of such a coalition.
The minimum? We play the world’s policeman by punishing Assad for gassing his people, shaming those who sit on the sidelines, and loudly proclaiming that any other use of such weapons by any group will be treated similarly.
Peter Haley, Seattle
September 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Right and moral
I couldn’t disagree more with your paper’s position on the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on its own people.[“Editorial: Congress, just say ‘no’ on Syria,” Opinion, Sept. 4.]
The editorial stated, “Congress also needs to explain why the heinous use of chemical weapons crosses a line not exceeded by conventional slaughter and all manner of deprivation against civilian populations in Syria and elsewhere.”
Try replacing the word “chemical” with “nuclear.”
What if Syria activated a small nuclear device — another “unconventional weapon” — that killed “only” 1,500 of its people. Would you still argue that the United States remain uninvolved?
As horrendous and deadly as modern conventional warfare has become, the uncontested use of unconventional weapons (chemical or nuclear) by any country would thrust the world into uncharted territory that would be exponentially more dangerous.
This goes far beyond what you term “a deft political move.” It’s the right and moral thing to do. If the United States acts alone, so be it. It would only make me that much more proud of my country
Dave Richards, Bainbridge Island
Rules of war
Your editorial on Syria posed a crucial question in the current debate over U.S. involvement in Syria without answering it.
I don’t understand why people advocating enforcement of the international norms against the use of chemical weapons never seem to answer this obvious question: So many innocent civilians have already been killed in Syria — what makes killing them with chemical weapons so different?
The international agreements to treat any use of unconventional weapons [atomic, biological, and chemical] as war crimes is based on the fact that all three tend to kill far more civilians than combatants, no matter how they are used.
Conventional weapons can obviously be used to kill civilians, and regimes or groups who do so intentionally are treated as criminals as well. “Collateral damage” caused by conventional weapons is then justified as the unintended consequence of targeting enemy combatants in the same proximity.
None of this matters to anyone who adheres to a pure form of pacifism that condemns any use of force to defend against any physical attack, but most people have accepted some “rules of engagement” that distinguish between the use of lethal force between combatants and the intentional killing of civilians as a means of genocide and/or terrorism.
During World War I, both sides developed chemical weapons that proved to be useless in changing military outcomes, but were much more dangerous than conventional weapons in terms of spreading the carnage to civilians. Similar concerns were raised concerning nuclear weapons after World War II. Now efforts have been taken to prevent the proliferation of each.
So here we are, asking each other what should be done if a clear case of violating the “rule” against chemical weapons can be proven. A few modern nations, such as the U.S. and France, are willing and able to prevent the “rule breaker” from breaking that rule again.
It is still a debatable question, but as civilians we deserve to know why this “rule” even exists.
Jon Shaughnessy, Bellingham
Learn from history
Thank you for your editorial.
I’m a 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran. In the beginning, our political leaders told us we would only send military advisers to Vietnam. It would be “limited involvement.” Sound familiar?
When the war ended, we had lost more than 58,000 killed in action, all for nothing.
The world population is around seven billion. Of that total we have about 316 million, less than 5 percent of the planet. We cannot “fix” the world with our guns and bombs.
Our military should be used only to protect our nation and our clear national interest. Learn from history.
Richard Mauser, Kent
September 5, 2013 at 6:59 PM
Obama is embarrassing us
President Obama went to a synagogue in Sweden, and said that his plans to retaliate against the Syrian government are motivated by the example of Raoul Wallenberg, who issued passports to thousands of Hungarian Jews, saving them from the Nazis in 1944. [“Obama, in Sweden, likens U.S. quest to Wallenberg’s,” News, Sept. 5.]
Obama forgot to mention how many innocent people Wallenberg killed, trying to teach their government a lesson. (Answer: none.)
I wish Obama would just stay at home and stop embarrassing us all.
Kris DeWeese, Port Townsend
Support the president
President Roosevelt kept the U.S. out of World War II for more than two years, reflecting powerful anti-interventionist sentiments held by American citizens.
Had Pearl Harbor not occurred, one can only speculate on what the consequences might have been. Nazi or Soviet hegemony over Western Europe and Britain? Japanese hegemony over Southeast Asia and Australia?
Sometimes popular opinion has it wrong. War crimes must not be ignored by the international community and the leader of that community is the United States.
A low-risk, offensive operation by the United States, calculated to disrupt and discourage obvious war crimes by the Syrian regime, seems a more than reasonable use of our military resources. It would demonstrate that our country still stands as a beacon of decency and human rights in an uncertain world.
I support the president.
Jim White, Lake Forest Park
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