(On Violence believes that one of the things which makes America great is the ability to hold elective representatives accountable. With an impending vote in Congress on President Obama’s desire to use military force in Syria--which we both oppose--we emailed our elected representatives to voice our opposition.)
To Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Brad Sherman and Representative Karen Bass,
We are writing to urge you to vote against the use of military force in Syria or the surrounding countries because of the ongoing civil war and Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s possible use of chemical weapons.
Before we explain why, we would like to commend both the Congress and President Obama for seeking legislative approval of this action. Though we wish this discussion had started sooner, we appreciate that the legislative branch is debating the issue.
That said, you should adamantly oppose U.S. military action in Syria. First, the U.S. cannot hold up international norms--the ostensible reason for war--without gaining broad international support. Ideally, this means getting the United Nations, NATO or the Arab League on board, as President George H.W. Bush did before the Persian Gulf War. To maintain America’s leadership in the world means not just having the military power to attack other countries, but building, maintaining and then using our diplomatic power to build coalitions.
Second, the U.S. has not exhausted all other options. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should initiate talks between all interested parties, including Turkey, Russia, China and Iran, before the U.S. goes to war. If the U.S. truly cares about protecting the people and children of Syria, then it should let in Syrian refugees, increase funding to aid groups in Syria and pledge to financially and logistically support any peacekeeping forces the U.N. might send if a cease fire can be reached. It should not launch cruise missiles before taking these actions. Dropping bombs and firing missiles could kill many more people than Bashar al Assad killed with chemical weapons.
Third, a war in Syria has a small but not statistically insignificant chance of spiralling out of control. With multiple parties involved, including Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, starting an air war could easily escalate.
Finally, the use of cruise missile strikes has very little chance of succeeding at any of its goals. Academic research shows that the intervention of outside nations--except under terms of a ceasefire or peace keeping arrangement--tend to prolong civil wars. It won’t signal anything to Iran or North Korea. And it will do little to ease the suffering in Syria.
Taken together, we urge you to vote no on authorizing military force in Syria.
Former Captain in the US Army and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan