Voices get louder against U.S. military strikes
CAPITAL REGION Doug Klein issued a challenge to U.S. lawmakers Monday: Try going 20 years without a war.
The Milton resident who organized a candlelight vigil outside the Post Office in downtown Saratoga Springs on Monday believes a military strike on Syria seems like another extension of the nation’s ceaseless hostilities overseas. He’s not buying the notion that an attack on Syria will be brief or surgical as proponents suggest.
“Quick strike and we’re out?” he said amid a group of roughly 40 demonstrators. “Anyone who believes that is crazy.”
President Barack Obama’s call for limited strikes in Syria has met similar disfavor on Capitol Hill. With Congress poised to vote on the authorization for military strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, many are speaking out in opposition.
“I believe striking that country militarily will make it worse,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook. Gibson thinks attacking Syria will have potentially disastrous implications. A veteran of 29 years in the armed forces, he fears an engagement in Syria could result in protracted hostilities in the region, perhaps even widening the conflict that is now localized in the war-torn nation.
And a recent poll of his district shows his constituents agree. Gibson said roughly 85 percent of people polled were against U.S. military action, and only 11 percent indicated they’re in favor of a strike.
Gibson sees diplomacy as a far better solution. He believes the United States and the world community can place pressure against the Assad regime through economic sanctions that restrict Syrian commerce and would force him back into compliance.
“It doesn’t draw us into a military action that could draw us into a regional war or worse,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is be spending tax dollars on something that is not in our interest. We have to make the wise decision.”
U.S. Rep Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, was similarly skeptical about authorizing strikes, citing the collective exhaustion of the U.S. military after two protracted conflicts and the financial burden such action would place on the already cash-strapped government.
Though he remains horrified by the images of chemical attacks coming out of Syria, his concerns about getting involved in the conflict remain.
“It doesn’t come cheap in dollars and cents and it doesn’t come cheap in terms of its impact on our soldiers,” he said.
Tonko also acknowledged that the constituents contacting his office have been resoundingly opposed to military action. As a result, he believes the best course of action is to resort to diplomacy rather than to engage in aggression.
“If we can come to the negotiating table and avoid the carnage of innocent victims, that will be a major victory for world peace,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state’s Senate delegation appears to be leaning toward supporting military action, though New York’s junior senator remains undecided. Spokesman James Rahm said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will base her decision on information provided by the intelligence community in the coming days.
“Senator Gillibrand is attending a classified briefing at the White House [Monday] evening, and will be attending additional briefings this week to review the classified intelligence and query the administration on their strategy and objectives before deciding on her vote,” he said Monday.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer threw his support behind limited military action against Syria, stressing the danger posed by allowing the use of chemical weapons to go unchecked. Though he doesn’t believe in engaging in a “protracted conflict in the Middle East,” the state senior senator believes some military action is warranted.
“The Foreign Relations Committee resolution is clear, limited and specific,” he said in a statement. “It prohibits any boots on the ground and puts strict time limits on American involvement in Syria while still allowing an appropriate response to the use of weapons of mass destruction, and I will support it.”