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Congress Should NOT Vote for a Military Attack on Syria to Punish Assad

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) September 8, 2013: After President Barack Obama publicly warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to cross the red line by using chemical weapons on his own people, chemicals weapons were used to kill close to 1,500 Syrian people.

To be sure, the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians is outrageous and appalling.

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Using Harry Truman's famous saying that the buck stops with the president, the Obama administration reasons that Assad crossed the red line and used chemical weapons on his own people, despite being warned by Obama not to.

But Assad himself publicly contests the claim that evidence shows that his armed forces used chemical weapons. Even if Assad is responsible for the use of chemical weapons against his own people, I would not expect Assad to come out and admit it. On the contrary, I would expect him to say instead exactly what he is saying.

However, apart from Assad's own self-serving statements, I have not seen evidence yet that would conclusively rule out the possibility that the rebel forces used the chemical weapons on Syrian people as a way to frame Assad.

But now Obama wants a limited strike against Syria to punish Assad, the alleged culprit.

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But if Assad is the alleged culprit who is supposedly going to be punished, should he be targeted?

No, no, no, the U.S. does not want to try to bring about regime change in Syria. So Assad himself will not be targeted. After all, there is a civil war going on in Syria, and regime change at this time could destabilize Syria and bring about chaos.

OK, but will Assad's armed forces be targeted instead? After all, it would seem to be a proportionate punishment to kill 1,500 of Assad's armed forces.

But Assad might understandably interpret the killing of 1,500 of his armed forces as   military aggression by a foreign power (the U.S.), and he might understandably lash out at a nearby U.S. ally in the region (Israel). Moreover, Russia might support his claim that the killing of 1,500 of his armed forces by the U.S. is military aggression by the U.S.

So it might not be a good idea for the U.S. to kill 1,500 of Assad's armed forces.

So President Obama proposes only a limited attack on Syria.

But the limited attack on Syria is supposed to punish Assad. So what should the limited attack aim to do -- blow up key buildings and important military infrastructures?

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But what about the people who might get killed when the U.S. is blowing up things in Syria? I know, I know, they will just be collateral damage.

Now, President Obama and John Kerry claim that American credibility abroad will be damaged if the U.S. does not carry out an attack on Syria to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people.

But what do they mean by "American credibility"?

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell
Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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