An Open Letter to Congress on Syria

Quicker, easier, more seductive -- and wrong

Quicker, easier, more seductive — and wrong

Here is the letter that I sent to my senators and congressman on Syria. Whether you agree or disagree, I urge you to email or call your representatives. Let them hear your voice!

I implore you to vote “no” on military intervention in Syria. No vital U.S. interest is at stake, and an attack will have unforeseen consequences that are nearly impossible to predict. The proper response to the Assad regime’s use of poison gas is not more killing. I don’t want American cruise missiles slamming into Syrian bodies in my name. Neither should you.

Respectfully yours,

William Astore, professor and retired lieutenant colonel (USAF)

Astore may be reached at

Also featured at Huffington Post.

7 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Congress on Syria

  1. Amen.

    The syria situation is the same as Iraq was. All the same things are set to go wrong.

    The difference is we shouldn’t be confused by our post- 9/11 fear now.

    And the second difference is, we have the very recent experience of Iraq to learn from. Same script, same stage, same actors, same lines. It’s going to have the same ending. Let’s not see this show a second time. (actually more like fifth or sixth time if you count Libya Egypt Afghanistan etc).

    PS- it follows from this that Obama is just another version of Bush. We should face up to this inconvenient truth as well.

  2. The perception that “no vital US interest is at stake”–i.e., there is no significant deposit of valuable natural resources beneath Syrian soil–is precisely why this slaughter has been tolerated for two-plus years. And suddenly Americans have embraced isolationism? “We don’t care what butchery may be carried out in other nations” is the new theme song? Republicans are now “peaceniks” and followers of Gandhi?? What’s next, they become “tree huggers”??? This whole situation is extremely fishy, if not outright surreal.

    • When I say “vital interest,” I’m not talking oil or some other natural resource. Syria represents no threat to our national security. Their civil war is none of our affair. We have strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons; if we want a military response to that, it should be done under the auspices of the UN. But Obama has failed to build a “coalition of the willing.” Furthermore, the American people are opposed. The most vital interest we have is the preservation of our democracy. If the people are opposed to a military strike, if Congress votes “no,” we should stay out.

      I’d also add that a military strike may provoke the Syrians to use chemical weapons again. What then? More military strikes? More killing? All in the name of US “credibility”?

      • In a very real sense, the American War For Independence from England was a civil war. The colonists were torn between remaining loyal to the Crown and carving out a new sphere of exploitation of resources to their own, exclusive economic advantage. Had France not intervened on behalf of those favoring the second option, we might still be singing “God Save The Queen”! But Mr. Astore says the new policy should be: If it’s declared a “civil war,” we don’t give a damn what kind of atrocities are unleashed against innocent civilians; we will sit on our hands. This is what the world community did during the Rwanda/Botswana genocide. Not something the world should be proud of, in my opinion. The UN is paralyzed by the veto allowed members of the Security Council. That policy really needs to be changed. This is literally the first time in my lifetime that I feel a need to support POTUS in a call for what would be, essentially, unilateral military intervention abroad. As for threats to “democracy” here at home, well…we don’t live in a democracy, my friend. But that’s a whole other topic, eh?

      • We have to be careful with our historical analogies. Rwanda was a one-sided genocide that killed 800K. Syria is a civil war in which already 100K or so have been killed. The U.S. has largely ignored the war until the “red line” was crossed with chemical weapons. Yet we did nothing when Saddam Hussein crossed that same red line in the 1980s in the Iran-Iraq war. Also, France’s decision to aid us in the American Revolution was not inspired by their love of democracy. They were attempting to weaken Great Britain, especially since the latter had won the French and Indian war from 1757-63. I’d also add that the American revolutionaries were driven, at least in part, by a vision of democracy. I can’t say the same of the Syrian rebels that we’d be supporting by a military strike.

  3. Greg.. There is a fundamental difference between the American Revolution and the Syrian civil war. The colonists were fighting their government BUT NOT ON THE SAME SOIL i.e. they were not fighting the Crown in England so the English army was invading their ( the colonists) soil. in what we now call the USA.
    The Syrian civil war is being fought on Syrian soil between a Shia sect (Alawites) in power and a Sunni supported diverse group of rebels to impede the Shia regime in Iran. Make no mistake, our intervention is on the side of the Saudis, Qatar,et al Sunni regimes, and Israel against a band of Shia support stretching from Iran, thru Iraq, to Lebanon’s Hezballah.
    The time to have intervened is long past. It should have been done during the non violent protest period. But diplomacy failed because The US and Russia could not come to an agreement which would have protected Russia’s Syrian interests. ( a naval port in the Mediterranean at Taurus). Any result of this late American intervention now is a lose lose for us.

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