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Letters: Digging in over Syria intervention

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress

President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress in the cabinet room of the White House. Obama is urging Congress to authorize military action against Syria, and says he is willing to work with lawmakers on the wording of a specific resolution. (Sept. 3, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Based on my experience in conventional combat in Afghanistan, and having had the mildest form of a chemical weapon in my lungs, it is my belief that intervention in Syria is a just cause ["Potential Breakthrough On Syria," News, Sept. 10].

I've been asked, what does it matter that 1,400 people have been gased to death when the world is content to sit back and watch millions die from bombs and bullets?

The answer is that chemical weapons are a uniquely cruel form of warfare. They inflict pain before death, do not discriminate over who is killed, and create psychological terror among survivors. The world long ago said these weapons should never be used.

Chemical weapons became obsolete after gas masks became standard issue for armies around the globe. They were no longer weapons soldier used against soldier. Chemical weapons have evolved into a weapon for soldier to use against civilian. To not intervene, even if only to degrade the capacity of the Assad regime to deliver chemical weapons in the future against rebels, would be giving a green light to any leader trying to hold power.

This is not the same argument used in favor of attacking Iran, which is to prevent that country from getting nuclear weapons, or for attacking Iraq, because of the threat to Americans from secret stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

America is tired of war. The world is tired of war. I understand that. But so do the worst leaders in the world. Don't let tyrants exploit that exhaustion by sneaking chemical weapons back into the list of acceptable warfare tools.

Jason Kirell, Islandia

While Congress debates in the media whether to give President Barack Obama the authority to strike the Assad regime in Syria, perhaps Congress needs to consider whether the lives and health of American soldiers are worth the results.

Although no one is talking about committing ground troops in Syria, of about 1.5 million soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, some 834,000 have applied for Veterans Affairs benefits, and 30 percent suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Some 22 veterans take their lives daily. Further, the wait for treatment and compensation claims submitted to the VA can exceed a year.

It's awful that 1,400 Syrians died in a poison gas attack, but where is Congress' concern for the care of our own veterans and fixing the VA mess before adding more victims?

Rick Shaper, Old Brookville