Letters: Debate over U.S. action in Syria

Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate

Syrian refugees arrive at the Turkish Cilvegozu gate border, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Routine prevailed at a US-Turkish airbase in southern Turkey on Monday, a day after the US alleged that sarin gas was used in an August chemical weapons attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (Credit: AP Photo Gregorio Borgia)

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President Barack Obama made a strategic error in setting a "red line" against use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war ["U.S. strike clears first hurdle," News, Sept. 5]. He loses credibility if he doesn't take military action and is reluctant to go it alone, considering little international support and a public wary of more war.

So, he now asks Congress for support to carry out military action. When will we learn that we cannot police a world so torn by religious and ethnic hatred, especially so in that part of the world? Did our military excursions in Iraq or Afghanistan make us or those countries safer? Will dropping a few missiles in Syria change the bloodbath happening there? Is it only a matter of time until our government decides that Iran has crossed a "red line" on its nuclear program, and we proceed to attack that nation?

I hope Congress does the right thing and votes against military action. It is not our fight and will only cause more suffering and feed further hatred toward us.

Jack Pepitone, West Hempstead
 

If America is going to war again, let everyone sacrifice. Bring back the draft, with few, if any, exemptions, so that the college graduate, as well as the high school dropout, is drafted into the armed services.

As for those, like me, who are too old to be drafted, let us help pay for the war with a special war tax.

Joseph J. Malone, Syosset
 

President Barack Obama's announcement that he will seek congressional approval before ordering military action against the Assad regime is a brilliant (perhaps cowardly) political maneuver that seems to be working so far.

No one seems to be entertaining the possibility that Obama neither expects nor wants Congress to approve the use of force in Syria. The president has vacillated and dissembled repeatedly over red lines and responses. He likely has no desire to actually follow through on his threats.

When the British Parliament handed David Cameron a no vote last week, a light bulb went off somewhere in the West Wing. If the president asks for legislative approval and Congress votes no, he can claim to have been resolute while blaming American inaction on Capitol Hill. It's a devilishly clever political move.

Alternatively, if Congress votes to approve and something goes wrong, the blame can be shared. In the extremely unlikely event that action against Bashar Assad turns out to be a stroke of strategic genius, Obama will only be forced to afford a meager slice of the credit to anyone else. After all, he's the commander in chief.

Brian O'Leary, St. James
 

I was very surprised by Rep. Peter King's (R-Seaford) criticism of President Barack Obama for his decision to seek congressional approval before acting against Syria for using chemical weapons ["LI's King backs missile strikes in Syria," News, Aug. 27].

King cited a concern about the weakening of presidential powers. This is not a valid criticism. First, it is still the president's prerogative to decide whether to ask the Congress for approval. More important, going to war is the most serious decision a nation can make and obtaining congressional approval, unless we are under an imminent threat, is both prudent and reasonable.

Personally, I feel we should do nothing without a coalition of nations willing to share the burden and risks. I only wish that President George W. Bush had taken the same approach with Iraq before railroading the nation into a war that resulted in thousands of deaths, wasted more than a trillion dollars and strengthened nuclear-focused Iran by debilitating its longtime enemy.

Ray Xerri, Oceanside
 

President Barack Obama and his staff have worked hard to make the case that Bashar Assad used chemical weapons to attack his countrymen. But the administration has not made the case for why the United States must act on its own to respond.

Assad's crimes are brutal and evil and should not be tolerated by civilized society. But who has given us the responsibility to serve as policeman to the world? By what authority do we have the right or responsibility to attack another country for crimes -- no matter how heinous -- committed within its own borders?

For America to act as part of a broad international coalition against the Assad regime is responsible and acceptable. For America to act on its own, without the support of our allies and in fact against the opposition of some, is neither.

John Carlson, Smithtown
 

Is the United States ultimately seeking military occupation and control of Syria? Without putting American troops on the ground in Syria, how can we be assured that chemical weapons will not be used again after the initial bombing of manufacturing and deployment sites -- assuming it is our business to intervene at all?

In Syria, we still do not know whom to bomb. And some evidence has come up, yet to be checked out, that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar had roles in the manufacture, distribution and use of nerve gas in Syria.

Before we take military action, we must be certain what we are willing to do, and make sure our intentions are compatible with the logical outcome of our actions.

Robert Shorin, Syosset

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