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Diplomacy needed more than military might

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On Aug. 30, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a marvelous speech where he described in detail the awful events of Aug. 21 in Eastern Damascus that led to the death of 1,429 Syrians, more than 400 of them children.

By listing the facts, one by one we learned the sequence of events initiated by the Bashar al-Assad regime, which shot poisonous gas into the civilian community and afterward tried to cover it up by destroying the evidence.

Kerry presented a strong case for moral outrage that Assad’s heinous assault provoked in the western world demanding a military strike. The next day, President Obama announced that he had decided to punish Assad with a military strike.

But he said that he is in no hurry. Before he does anything, he wants to learn the opinion of Congress after it returns from the August recess. In addition, he made clear that he has no intention to topple Assad.

President Obama’s policy toward Syria has vacillated through the history of this conflict. There was a time when he, together with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, advocated the ouster of Assad and a year ago, and he drew a red line to stop chemical warfare.

Today, the complexity of the Syrian question has gained deeper understanding. The war in Syria is a religious war, Sunni against Shia with a number of factions on both sides. Nobody in his right mind wants to stick his head into this hornet’s nest.

Is Congress going to support a military strike against Syria? I hope not. The American people are sick and tired of the mess in the Middle East.

And a military strike on Syria is not necessarily the best way to send a message of disapproval to Assad. There is an international body called the International Criminal Court.

We should make clear to Assad that when the time comes, he will face its judgment. In general, we should get out of the persistent mindset that military means are the only way to solve problems.

Let’s start dismantling our military industrial complex and instead let’s invest in perfecting the noble profession of diplomacy.

Maire T. Zakrzewski

Watertown

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