Dear Mr. President,
This week I have continued to struggle with my opinion on the subject of US Airstrikes in Syria. Even after writing my last blog entry on the subject, I have been troubled by how to sort out information and form an opinion that I feel certain reflects my belief system. I want to understand because the actions that you take on behalf of the nation reflect on me as an American. I want my perception of this situation to be accurate because if my country takes the wrong turn, I don’t want to be lost. I want my moral compass to be intact.
These are the issues in conflict that linger in my mind:
We have received confirmation of the use of Chemical weapons. The “Red Line” has been crossed. If we ignore the use of Chemical Weapons what are we communicating? At what point do we react to the use of chemical weapons? Will we intervene when they are used of our allies or will we wait until they are used on Americans? Does turning our back on the use of chemical weapons invite or even encourage further use?
Innocent people are suffering in Syria. We are bombarded by images of children who are orphaned, wounded and of those who are now refugees. The United States is both ridiculed and applauded for its acts of humanitarianism. It is the US that is frequently the first responder to international victims of natural disaster. Americans are known for digging deep into their own pockets to offer relief efforts to those in need. If that image no longer defines America, what does?
Can airstrikes alone serve as a solution to the problems that exist in Syria? Will this intervention serve as a sure fire means of removing Asaad from power?
If Asaad is removed from power will Syria be better off? Will it bring stability? Will lives be restored to that which was normal before the conflict began? Are the US and France willing to remain in order to enforce some level of peace, if so for how long?
If the violence that exists in Syria is intolerable why aren’t more countries in the Middle East expressing their concerns? Why isn’t Saudi Arabia leading a military intervention? If the US becomes involved militarily, is the conflict likely to grow and increase tension in our Middle East relationships?
Can the US really involve itself in another country’s conflict when the results in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Libya are really in question? Can we truly justify the additional military spending when many of the US veterans of each conflict are homeless, jobless and disabled?
Although we have confirmation of chemical weapons, do we have confirmation of which side used them?
Last week I asked one of my French friends his thoughts on military intervention and in addition to sharing his valid opinion he ended the conversation by saying, “Ultimately, when I voted for Francois Hollande I entrusted him with the power to make the right decision on the behalf of France. I will support my president”.
I thought about what my friend said and then I thought about why I chose to vote for you. I knew that you would be our president when I saw you speak at the democratic convention in 2004. You spoke with such eloquence that it was spell binding. You spoke to us as though you knew what was in our hearts. My husband and I waited to see you for four hours at Municipal Hall in Kansas City on January 29th of 2008. It was magical. US Senator Claire McCaskill stood beside you on stage to represent Missouri while Governor Kathleen Sebelius stood on the other side to represent Kansas. A small group of people began to chant “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” but it was quickly drowned out by the exuberant cheers for you. There was an experience in that auditorium that day, a knowing, as we stood shoulder to shoulder in all shades of skin color. There was a shared knowledge that everything that had occurred in our history, Rosa Parks, The Civil Rights Movement, The Women’s Movement, your presence justified the tears that were spent and the blood that was spilled. We witnessed the remuneration for work that had been done by those who came before us. You validated what we had all dreamed was possible of our country but hadn’t quite believed could happen. You represented HOPE before it became part of your slogan. That Mr. President is the reason I voted for you.
Then I began to think about what the US is today and I thought about the people that represent this country. I thought about the people who have chosen not to become part of this conversation because they believe that their opinion doesn’t matter. I thought about those who support the airstrikes and the passion behind their choice. I thought about the people that are so cynical that they say that can’t see the difference between you and your predecessor. I thought about the people who are still weeping for those they lost in Iraq or Afghanistan. I thought about those who lost fortunes in investments to greed on Wall Street. I thought about jobs lost and homes foreclosed upon. I thought about scarcity and “just getting by”.
It is hard for me to think that I go about my life comfortably and without fear as the people of Syria suffer. It’s also hard for me to imagine that this country could intervene in yet another country’s struggle when the majority of the country cannot stand together in support of it. I think that we can see that we as a nation are beginning to recover, but we are not whole yet. We are not strong enough for another fight.