Gazette Editorial Board
We took a position in our Aug. 28 that we want to retract. Even if the Syrian regime is guilty of recently using chemical weapons to kill hundreds of its own people during that nation’s horrific civil war, we do not support a limited military strike at Syria’s military targets as an effective response.
We had argued that a message of deterrence must be sent by the United States and an international coalition. But as developments have unfolded from this incredibly complicated scenario in recent days, we are convinced that a military response of any kind — without a clear, comprehensive strategy that has broad international support — is simply ill-advised and likely would make things worse than better for Syrians and sets off dangerous repercussions throughout the deeply troubled Middle East.
Tuesday, as this is being written, the Obama administration continued to argue that a commitment to military action is necessary to gain concessions from Syria, even after Syria reportedly agreed to a Russian proposal to give up its chemical weapons. The White House, despite little support in opinion polls, continued to press Congress for support of force, saying the U.S. must prove its resolve and credibility.
Well, U.S. credibility and resolve in the Middle East already is in short supply. This is no time to beat our chests and try to regain global stature by raining down missiles.
As for fears that Syrian President Assad will be emboldened to commit more atrocities or that Iran will hasten development of nuclear weapons if the U.S. doesn’t strike militarily, there are increasingly strong arguments that the opposite is more likely and could set off a chain-reaction that dangerously inflames conflicts in the Middle East and beyond.
As a longtime national voice of reason, former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, in Cedar Rapids last Friday, said there are only bad options. We agree.
We are in no position to be the world’s policeman. There are lingering doubts about who used chemical weapons on whom. And many of the rebel factions appear as brutal or worse than Assad.
It appears the only hope may be what Leach suggested: the U.S. and Russia lead an intense international effort to broker peace in Syria without military force.
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