Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I Oppose Military Intervention in Syria

This morning, I sent the following letter to my Senators, Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin and my House Representative, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

September 2, 2013

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
503 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Mikulski:

I urge you not to authorize military action against Syria. Despite the claims of the Obama Administration, we do not know with absolute certainty that the Assad regime launched chemical attacks against its own people. It is possible that the so-called rebels may be responsible for those despicable crimes against humanity. As reported in the USA Today article entitled Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda, many of those so-called rebels are affiliated with the terrorist group, Al Qaeda. They capable of anything. Their crimes are well documented in the New York Times and many other media sources.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration's unclassified report does not cite any sources. Similarly, as reported in a Washington Post article entitled Sarin gas used in Syria attack, Kerry says, Secretary of State John Kerry claims that laboratory test results found traces of sarin in hair and blood collected at the scene. However, Mr. Kerry did not provide any details. His claim is unsubstantiated.

We are expected to simply accept the Administration's word. In light of the intelligence community's abysmal track record, that would be unwise. The Bush Administration told us that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam posed a threat to national security. After the lost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, we now know that Bush's assertions were false. Based on faulty intelligence reports, the Obama Administration told us that the attacks in Benghazi stemmed from protests over a film insulting Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Later, the Administration had a retract that assertion and admit that it was a well planned terrorist attack. Not to long ago, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told Congress that the NSA was not collecting records on thousands of Americans. Whistle blower Edward Snowden proved Mr. Clapper's assertion to be false. Again, we cannot accept any administration's word without concrete and verifiable proof.

The United Nations conducted an investigation and plans to issue a report soon. Before engaging in an act of war against a sovereign state, America should at least wait until the UN releases its report. That report will confirm whether or not chemical weapons were in fact used. We should insist that the UN inspectors be allowed to conduct further inspections to definitively determine who is responsible for the attack. Even President Obama acknowledged that there is no urgent need to immediately respond with force. We can wait.

Even if the Assad regime committed the alleged atrocities, you still should not authorize the use of force that this time. Syria does not pose a threat to America's national security. They have not attacked or threatened to attack America. If the US attacks Syria, it will jeopardize our national security. Syria will probably retaliate against the US and its allies. Troops should not be deployed for purpose of political gamesmanship or to save face for the President.

In addition, the mission is not clear or sound. "Limited attacks" from the air will not be sufficient to remove Assad from power. If Assad did in fact use chemical weapons, a US attack would probably incite him to use chemical weapons on a larger scale against his own people. Instead of protecting civilians in Syria, more civilians will die.

The US may be forced to escalate its involvement in Syria. The President assures the American people that there will be no boots on the ground. He assures us that the operation will be limited in scope and duration. However, as currently drafted, the President's resolution does not provide any such limitations. That is simply unacceptable.

The Obama Administration claims that it must act because the Assad regime violated international law by using chemical weapons. However, as reported in a Huffington Post article entitled Syria: Is An Attack On The Country Legal?,
Article 2 (4) of the UN charter states that "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." But the UN does allow for states to use force for self-defence and, under Chapter 7, authorizes the Security Council to take action "to maintain or restore international peace and security."
Here, the US is would not be acting in self defense. Moreover, the UN Security Council has not taken any action to maintain or restore international peace. Thus, if the US unilaterally attacks Syria, the US will be violating international law. One cannot uphold international law by violating international law. Such actions make America look hypocritical.

The United States cannot be the world's policeman. The crisis in Syria is Arab problem that requires Arab solutions. The Arab League should bear the primary responsibility for creating stability in the region, not the US. The US should not put troops in danger by using them to prop up and protect Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in Syria. Has the US learned anything from its experience in Afghanistan?

Many claim that this operation is being conducted for humanitarian purposes. The Administration claims that its acting in order to protect the Syrian people. You do not protect people by bombing them. There is no guarantee that US bombs will not kill many innocent civilians. That would defeat the purported purpose of the mission. The U.S. drone policy is a prime example of US military attacks can result in significant collateral damage.

This is not about humanitarianism. It is about geopolitics and the control of natural resources. If Syria was not located in an oil rich region, there would be no calls for military action. Thousands of innocent civilians are dying in the Central Republic of Congo, Nigeria and many other countries around the world. Yet, the US does nothing. Clearly, this is not about protecting civilians.

If we truly want to protect innocent civilians, we must intensify our diplomatic efforts, not our military efforts. Please do not authorize the use of military force in Syria.

Very truly yours,

Anson C. Asaka

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