The reasons for or against U.S. action
According to a statement in a Star Tribune editorial (“Obama’s sensible delay,” Sept. 1), the administration “has not yet presented a persuasive case … that a U.S. military strike would have the intended effect — to dissuade President Bashar Assad from ever again using chemical weapons to murder and maim his own people.”
I respectfully disagree with that premise — on two counts. First, the intended effect is more of an attempt to dissuade other leaders from using chemical weapons. A strike would be a message that we will not tolerate such behavior anywhere.
Second, the phrase “his own people” overlooks the fact that Assad does not see the people he attacked that way. They are Sunnis. He is Alawite, a Shiite sect. His war is a struggle to maintain power over the majority sect in his country. If he loses that struggle, he suspects his people, the Alawites, will suffer greatly. That fear does not justify his behavior, but helps explain it.
A later statement in the editorial also requires an additional view. Agreed, “the civil war in Syria does not pose an imminent threat to this nation.” However, the key word is “imminent.”
President Obama is worried about a long-term threat. An unanswered use of chemical weapons could give encouragement to sources other than Assad that they can get away with using those weapons, too. We can’t know at this point what will happen, but it appears to be one-dimensional to emphasize imminent threat only.
JIM BARTOS, Brooklyn Park
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I cannot agree more that Syria’s use of chemical weapons was beyond hideous and unforgivable and requires a response from the United States. What I cannot believe is that any military retaliation, however “surgical,” will not kill many innocents — particularly the elderly and frail, women and children. Thus, to me a U.S. military retaliation could arguably be construed as very nearly responding in kind.
I love our country. It’s my heartfelt hope that in this confounding, heartbreaking, dangerous situation the United States will choose “retaliation” from the high road, using the only “weapons” that can ultimately ensure our troubled world peaceful tomorrows — indefatigable restraint, compassion, and fierce intelligence.
CORAL BERGE, St. Paul
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What the president, Congress and others won’t say is that a major reason to act against Syria’s weapons is to support Israel. Assad is already a pariah. If he has poison gas and nothing to lose, how long before he turns it on Israel?
No one will say it, particularly the Israelis, because of the need for support from the Arab states. But in addition to reinforcing the standard that gassing civilians is a grievous crime, we will be protecting our longtime ally.
DAVID HANSEN, Faribault, Minn.
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The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.