President Obama called on Congress to back military strikes against Syria. While saying “there is no debate about the horrors of chemical warfare or the ruthless nature of the Assad regime,” Sen. Bernie Sanders voiced “very deep concerns” about military intervention. He asked why it is in the interest of the United States to get involved in a complicated and bloody civil war. He questioned what Obama’s “surgical strikes” would really achieve. He was apprehensive that some in Congress want a broader war aimed at regime change. He had misgivings about taking action without the UN or NATO. He was uneasy that getting involved in a third war in 12 years in the Middle East would keep Congress from focusing on jobs and other priorities that the American people think it should be addressing.
Who Will Pay?
Sanders raised another important question others have not asked. Who will pay for another military mission in the Middle East after 12 years and two wars in the volatile region? “We’ve cut back on education, we’ve cut back on nutrition programs, we’ve thrown kids off Head Start. We have billions to spend on a war, but no money to take care of the very pressing needs of the American people. That bothers me a lot,” he said.
What Do You Think?
As of Friday, Vermonters had sent Sanders 1,402 emails and faxes on Syria. That number includes 1,192 opposed to U.S. military strikes and 110 in support. There were 574 calls to his D.C. and Burlington, Vt., offices in opposition to military intervention, 22 in support. There also was an overwhelming reaction to an online survey. By Friday evening, about 22,000 people had gone to Sanders’ website to take a poll on Syria. By a 10-to-1 margin, the people who took the survey oppose military strikes on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons. Asked to pick from a list of broad issues that Congress should be concentrating on today, the top three picks were jobs, health care and global warming. Chemical weapons in Syria came in dead last.