Almanac

Viewpoint - September 11, 2013

Letter: Define objectives before deciding on Syrian attack

On Syria, there are two facts. 1) It is a civil war, not unlike civil wars that occur from time to time across the world. 2) Chemical weapons are used in contravention of the Geneva Protocol. The same could be said about the Congo, where a simmering civil war has claimed more lives and, against multiple international treaties, child soldiers are deployed and women raped.

Intervention in Syria, but not the Congo, will be because of our national interest. Let's be honest and define what those interests are and what path to best achieve them. What are our objectives? An immediate cease-fire enforced from the air? Securing or neutralizing the stockpiles of chemical weapons? Ousting the Assads to exile in Switzerland or trials at The Hague? Supporting a representative government that recognizes Israel's right to exist and stay out of Lebanese politics? Sending a strong message to Iran?

We have options, none of them good, cheap, or risk-free. We should listen to the president as he makes his case and presents his plan. But if we are still not sure, if we are not united in our purpose, don't go.

George Yang, Madera Avenue, Menlo Park

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