Resolve the following before proceeding

I have some questions that I would like you to answer before the irreversible step of attacking Syria is taken:

The argument for airstrikes is supported by a video that shows dramatic scenes of children gasping for breath because they had been exposed to nerve gas. If the video had been of children missing arms and legs or mangled by shrapnel, would it be just as effective?

How many innocent lives were taken by the United States in the air war before the invasions of Iraq either time?

How many innocent lives are we taking in the drone war in Pakistan?

If Bashar Assad were on death row in the United States, it would take 15 to 20 years before justice would allow us to execute him. The principle of American justice is that it is better for 10 guilty people to go free rather than for one innocent person to be punished.

Why is it OK to destroy innocent lives in Syria to punish a war criminal?

CALVIN DE JONG, St. Anthony Village

• • •

What if our missiles kill innocent women and children?

What if Syria retaliates and hits one of our ships? Will we still have “no boots on the ground”?

What if Mitt Romney were president? Would many Democrats still back war?

What if our missiles kill some Russians?

What if Assad falls and jihadists take control? Who will we fight then?

What if we spent the millions in war costs on peace, such as education here at home?

Why haven’t we learned from Iraq and Afghanistan?

This is insane. Let’s pack up and go home.


• • •

American military power, along with that of our NATO allies, stopped a genocide in Kosovo in 1999, without loss of American life. After touring Auschwitz a few weeks ago, I find it difficult to accept that the world will do nothing for millions of refugees and nothing to stop the death of thousands of noncombatant victims. Dropping bombs and rockets on the equipment that delivers poison gas is not the same as invading Iraq, and calling it “killing Syrians” to compare it to Assad’s murder of Syrian innocents is thoughtless.

Those who want military action must get support from our allies, and that starts with an intelligent and nonpartisan discussion in Congress. I respect those who oppose military action, and respect should be given to those who are considering support for some intervention.


• • •

Clouding the debate are commentaries on what the decision in Congress will mean for President Obama’s remaining term. I am glad that our president is outraged at the horrible slaughter of innocent civilians by the use of chemical weapons. I am glad he took time to consider a U.S. response, and I am glad that he is seeking the opinion and will of Americans through their congressional representatives.

Americans are saying “no” to this intervention, and the congressional vote should reflect the will of the people. If a “no” vote is the result, then it is up to Congress to work with the president to find alternative ways of making Assad accountable. Isn’t this the way government of, by and for the people should work?


• • •


Editorial ‘verdict’ was a study in defeatism

Newspapers are sometimes accused of boosterism, but until Saturday I’d never seen its opposite: a Star Tribune editorial making the shameful, dispiriting suggestion that Minnesotans abandon their tradition of cultural excellence (“Verdict on orchestra: Costs are too high”).

I have lived in this community all my life and have never heard civic leaders advise us that our community vision was unrealistic, that our sights were too high, that we were out of our league in aspiring to excellence.

The editorial wasn’t even logical. Positing that artistic excellence was at stake, it proceeded to suggest diminishing the same to save … what? An institution that has lost its soul?

Clearly, the Minnesota Orchestra is sloshing around in some kind of financial doo-doo. It’s also clear the musicians have held up their end of the deal — making music that blows away some of the world’s most sophisticated critics — even as the board has dropped the ball and put the organization on the skids.

Well, the damage is done. We need a solution.

But it must not be to cheat musicians of compensation commensurate with their world-class talent, deprive the community of its music and downgrade the cultural status of the Twin Cities. The solution lies instead in a board that knows how to run an orchestra like an orchestra (not like a bank), is savvy enough in its community relations to cultivate and engage sufficient resources, is truthful about its finances, and eschews brute bullying as a management style.

MARY PATTOCK, Minneapolis

• • •

The Minnesota Orchestra musicians could not and should not accept the board’s latest proposal, which offers two months at their previous contract while negotiations continue, followed by a two-year contract if differences are not resolved. It offers no incentive for the board to negotiate; all management has to do is wait out two months, then get the contract it has been wanting all along.