This morning I drafted and started circulating an open letter to our congressfolks and the president to express our concern regarding the mess in Syria. Please take it, make copies and get signatures (obviously, change it to your reps and senators if you're not local). Preventing this has a VERY short window of opportunity, since Congress is supposed to take it up when they return to session 9/9, and the administration is already pushing hard to convince them.
It's often a very subtle approach, too: Many of today's newspapers probably ran an AP story in which the first paragraph states "... new physical evidence shows the Syrian government used sarin gas in a deadly August attack." The problem is that's NOT TRUE. The evidence shows sarin WAS apparently used, but the U.N. team doing the research was not tasked with identifying the perpetrator.
Conflicting reports online accuse BOTH sides of using it and have widely variable numbers of casualties (from 335 to 1429). Among the points of view are these: the rebels have a vested interest in making it look like Assad did it; a rogue government colonel and/or Assad's brother ordered it; the government has been using it in small doses repeatedly (but this one was mixed badly); the rebels have used it before; and the rebels got it from the Saudis but most didn't know it was sarin. I'm sure there are others out there, and I certainly don't know the truth, but this list is enough to show we lack the facts to make a decent decision.
Uninformed decisions of this magnitude VERY often result in disaster. We've been playing Russian roulette in the Middle East for a long time now, and if we keep playing it, we WILL eventually land on the loaded chamber.
TO OPPOSE INTERVENTION IN SYRIA
To: U.S. Reps Richard Neal and James McGovern, U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and President Barack Obama
From: American citizens and residents of Central Massachusetts
September 2, 2013
We, the undersigned, strongly oppose US military action in the Syrian civil war.
Although nobody denies the awfulness of chemical weapons use, allegations suggest BOTH sides have been using it over the last year or so, and the recent UN investigation there was NOT charged with identifying the perpetrator. As a war crime, it is best decided by the International Criminal Court.
Beyond that, US involvement in the war carries serious risks of widening Syria's civil conflict into a full-scale regional war and/or even, potentially, a world war, with very little likely positive effect. The fact that it is already spilling into Lebanon and has sparked skirmishes with Turkey and Israel is bad enough, but we are concerned that direct American intervention – even of the “limited” type you propose – may prove to be the “last straw” for various outside powers, including Russia. Moscow has already made it clear they back the Syrian government, so our involvement greatly increases the danger of accidental direct conflict between two nuclear-armed nations. Such an event, even if of low probability, has such a high chance of global catastrophe it must be avoided.
Furthermore, both Iran and Israel have been posturing aggressively and could easily be drawn into this fight. Several nations (including Saudi Arabia) are already supporting one side or the other, and with evidence showing the better-armed rebels are al-Qaeda affiliates, we'd be stepping into a nest of vipers, inviting attacks from multiple directions.
Although we definitely should pay attention to it, this is not our war. We, the American people, are tired of overseas conflicts and need the resources they waste to rebuild our roads and schools, address environmental issues, revamp our economy and handle other problems here at home.