Bomb Syria and Then What?

USA_1956_3c_FriendshipTheKeyToWorldPeaceOne thousand four hundred and twenty nine Syrians are dead through a chemical attack waged by — Lord knows who — and thousands more have died in the brutal civil strife in the last two years. The chemical attack last week included the death of more than 400 children.

Drums beat for war.  Israeli citizens are lining up for gas masks, as they have often in the past.  A spokesperson for the Israeli Postal Service, which distributes the masks, reported four times as many orders as usual in the last two weeks.

Twice as many as usual are showing up at public centers to get government-issues masks and there has been talk of expanding the number of centers handing out gas masks to meet demand.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin last week rattled his sabers with threats of attacking Saudi Arabia, now he is quiet.  The New York Times reported a Russian deputy prime minister said the West dealt with the Islamic world like “a monkey with a grenade.”

President Obama, who says he has not made a decision on whether or not to lob cruise missiles from the four warships in the eastern Mediterranean into Syria, mentioned that there is a danger of terrorists getting Syrian chemical weapons and using them against U.S. interests.

The President has also said that we are not going to take out Syrian President Bashar Assad and the danger of striking chemical weapons sites is too high.

The Brits don’t want to play along; their Parliament voted to stay out of the military assault.

So if we do bomb Syria, then what?  And what happens the day after tomorrow?

Does any of this sound familiar?  Am I watching Colin Powell talk to the United Nations about Iraq and “weapons of mass destruction”?  Except this time, Russia isn’t on board as one of the five members of the U.N. Security Council.  It’s starting to feel like we’re taking this one on alone.

There is no question that what is happening in Syria is terrible, almost beyond belief. But do we have the “moral authority” to solve the world’s problems when so many of our own are out of control?  An MSNBC pundit this morning asked, rhetorically, why don’t we cure polio?  He quoted the World Health Organization’s statement that a billion dollars could fund the cure.  Or AIDS and parasite-borne illnesses in Africa?  Or homelessness in our country?  Or — wait for the flying bricks now — health care for all our citizens?

I was a “duck and cover” kid.  As a Baby Boomer, I participated in drills at our elementary school, either getting under our little metal desks, or crouching  against the concrete walls of the school hallways.  Tornadoes?  We were prepared?  Nuclear annihilation?  Still prepared?  This was the era of the LBJ daisy advertisement. In the ad, a tiny girl plucked petals off a flower; when she reached zero, the countdown to a nuclear blast began.  And then, boom, and nothingness.  Nothing like putting fear into the hearts of parents all over America.

I wasn’t old enough to really take in the fear. But today I am. I don’t know if our country is prepared to lose more of its fine young people, like we did in Iraq, and still in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State John Kerry assured the world today that, “We will not repeat that moment (referring to Iraq),” and also cited the international commitment before the War to End All Wars (WWI) to eliminate mustard gas and other weapons.  He asked Americans to read the unclassified documents about Syria and said, “Fatigue doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility.”

Kerry believes we should respond.  To me, the question is how.  Perhaps I am a  peacenik but I am uncertain that randomly killing others with our “shot across the bow” will deter more killing in Syria. Or anywhere else. Sojourners Magazine, a steady voice for peace, outlines a number non-violent solutions, if indeed America must move forward.

Secretary of State Kerry has thrown down the gauntlet and has asked Americans to read the evidence.  Let your Congressional representative know what you think.  I will be advocating for the diplomatic route to mine.

Amy McVay Abbott is an independent journalist from the Midwest, who focuses on health and rehabilitation issues.  She is also the author of two books, both available on, A Piece of Her Mind (2013) and The Luxury of Daydreams (2011).  These books are collections from her popular newspaper column, The Raven Lunatic.  Follow her on Twitter @ravenonhealth or visit her website at amyabbottwrites.

  • I totally agree, Amy! This country is in need of so many things and we need to pay attention to those needs. I hate what’s happened in Syria, but I’m thinking those middle eastern wing nuts are bound and determined to kill each other off regardless of whether we try to stop them. I’d hate to see any more Americans die when those people lack a healthy respect for life. But you know what? It doesn’t matter what WE, the people think. Politicians will do what they want to do especially if there is money to be made in the process.

  • Lezlie Bishop

    This is a damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-don’t situation, Amy. For all we know Hezbollah dropped those chemicals just to draw the U.S. into the conflict. If we don’t go in and try to cut off the access to or, better yet, destroy all those chemical and biological weapons, if they aren’t already in the hands of Hezbollah, they soon could be. God only knows what they would do with them.

    I’ve spent the last two days on the phone with my son. His first question to me was “why does the United States have to jump into every country’s internal disputes? I agree. But when our President draws a line in the sand and that line is deliberately and blatantly crossed, for him to go back on is word would open the doors for all kinds of negative results for Americans.

    I am opposed to putting any troops in Syria. I am reluctant to believe our so-called intelligence. One of the things I said to Stephen today was “remember Colin Powell?” This is one hot mess!

  • Heidi Banerjee

    Amy,I happen to be a peacenik, too, for good many reasons.
    Human nature is unfathomable.Following all discussions of this particular matter seems to expose the core nature of individuals which indicates apart from all others also a tendency for pushing towards war.
    When Bush sen. declared war, I felt sick and envisioned all these many people dying.
    Today,I hear the war cry “Assad has to be punished for this atrocity”.
    Hussein keeps wondering if we haven’t learned anything.
    It seems that because the Allied Forces missed Hitler at the time,there has to be an effective hunting down of single head of states.This is so very irrational.
    In order to save the West from further attacks,cannot mean to accept collateral damage and deaths on the other side of the fence.

  • Marti Teitelbaum

    I totally agree with you. The more I read about Syria, the more I read about the chemical weapons attacks, the more convinced I am that we have no clear idea of who did what to whom. First there’s a report of the attack; then a report that there were frantic confused calls within the Assad regime about the chemical attacks (maybe attack wasn’t authorized?); then reports that the Assad government prepared and planned carefully for the attacks; now a report that the chemical weapons were from Saudi Arabia handed over to rebels and accidentally set off. I have no idea if any of these explanations are accurate. And no one else really knows either. My be is that the misinformation is pouring in from all sides.
    And what will our military intervention do, other than kill lots of people?

  • Beverly Uhlmer

    …and not too long ago our President spoke at Planned Parenthood, where thousands of unborn AMERICANS are systematically poisoned and/or dismembered, invoking God’s blessings on this group. The rationale being, “it is the woman’s right to do this because it is her own body”. Well, Assad is killing his own people and we have no right to intervene, correct?

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