Zippidy Doo Da

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ghouta Chemical Attacks

The sarin gas killings in Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria last month have rightly focused the eyes of the world on the ongoing carnage of the Syrian Civil War. Even Americans have been forced to look, as President Obama and some in Congress have proposed military strikes against Syrian targets as sanctions against the Assad regime, generally thought to be responsible for this latest use of internationally forbidden chemical weapons.


Various polls show some sixty to eighty percent of Americans opposing such action, probably surpassing the number of us who could find Syria on a map. Nevertheless, many people I hear seem resigned to the action, saying that since the President warned Syrian President Assad that any use of such weapons would bring dire consequences, failure to follow-up on his threats would mean a loss of credibility. I hope our President is thinking bigger than that; I think so.

President Obama surprised many when he sought authorization from Congress for action against the Syrian regime, though he said at the time that it was within his power to act without Congressional approval. I welcome this move to break precedent, the Congress having abrogated for decades their constitutional role as the sole power authorized to declare war.

The President, of course must have known what sort of reception he would get from the recalcitrant Congress. It has been my hope that they would grant him authority to act, and then, he would find a way to not use it. An unforeseen diplomatic solution arrived this week with Russia’s proposal that Syria give up its stockpiles of chemical weapons to forestall American action. (Historian Douglas Brinkley suggests that Vladimir Putin wants a Nobel Prize too.)

But if this approach fails, I would prefer some multinational action, through the up-to-now dysfunctional Arab League, or through the United Nations, to quell the war in Syria. Peacekeepers in blue helmets ought to be Arab speakers from neighboring countries, including Iran, who, though neck-deep in this mess, might rise to the opportunity to gain face internationally in order to ease crippling sanctions applied over their nuclear weapons program.

Today is the eleventh of September, a day many will be exhorting you to “never forget.” I would ask that we consider the cause of that which we are to remember, and resist the call to more military adventures.

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