Fresh Ideas: Let our leaders hear our voice: No strikes in Syria |

Fresh Ideas: Let our leaders hear our voice: No strikes in Syria

Abby Johnson
For the Nevada Appeal

Last night, the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Obama spoke to the nation to garner support for a unilateral bomb strike by the United States on Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons that killed 1,400 Syrians, including 400 children.

President Obama is pulling out all the stops to persuade Congress and the nation to agree that Syria must be punished for unleashing the worst of weapons.

Isn’t that just what scheming Middle East dictators and zealots would like? Syria’s unleashing of chemical weapons is creating a divisive uproar in the international community.

If chaos is the goal, what better way is there to get the attention of the world than to initiate a chemical weapons attack on innocents? That is the sort of sick action that would sucker-punch the United States back into the fray. The 9/11 attacks certainly accomplished that goal 12 years ago.

The American people are fatigued from two undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little to show from them other than casualties: dead and severely wounded; Americans, allies and civilians. We are understandably skeptical that U.S. military action will make a positive difference, given the past 12 years of experience in trying to promote democracy in the Middle East.

For too long the U.S. regardless of president or party has pursued an unambiguous friend-or-foe policy. Democracy is good; other forms of government are bad. The complexities of the Egypt upheaval following the Arab Spring show that good-guys/bad-guys diplomacy is ineffective and obsolete, and the newly elected leaders might not have the support of their people or the U.S.

The Middle East is similar to a Mobius strip. It appears to be one-sided, deceptively so, but it is a continuous loop that brings us back again and again to the same dangerous places and conversations.

Some observers argue that the Syria chemical weapons situation is different from Iraq and Afghanistan, and that it is a mistake to apply our cynical war fatigue to this new situation. Before taking military action, has the U.S. explored all options? Will a missile strike deter Assad? Are there possible surprises in the soon-to-be-released United Nations weapons inspectors’ report that we should consider? Could a missile strike escalate the use of chemical weapons instead of deter their future use?

President Obama has asked for Congress to approve the strike on Syria. Congress is listening to the president and to the American people. Whatever your views, members of Congress need to hear from constituents, and soon. Participating in our representative democracy by speaking up about the Syria strike is a fitting action to honor those who perished Sept. 11, 2001.

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.