Give talk a chance

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A diplomatic plan, endorsed by Russia—based on an off-the-cuff remark by Secretary of State John Kerry—for control of Syria’s chemical weapons by the international community, should be the main course the Obama Administration should be taking. Any plan that takes U.S. military strikes in the Middle East (again) should be followed.

A year ago President Obama drew a “red line” in the sand regarding the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. That comment in August 2012 has come back to haunt Obama and boxed him into a corner. The Russian proposal for Syria to relinquish control of its chemical weapons allows the Obama Administration to step back from its war-chant.

In Tuesday night’s address to the nation Obama vowed to pursue the Russian initiative; at the same time he expressed skepticism about it and asked for Americans’ support to use military force if necessary.

With scant support in both houses of Congress and overwhelming opposition from the public, the Obama Administration needs to let the diplomatic negotiations run their course. The last thing the U.S. needs to do is send bombs into another country in the Middle East, where the reputation of the U.S. government can’t get any lower.

The international community has been on record against chemical weapons for decades, since World War I. Video of victims of such weapons fill our television screens and we are outraged, especially when there are so many child victims. We ask ourselves how any sane person can condone and use such weapons of mass destruction.

The United States, its leaders and its people should ask themselves why developed nations such as Russia and Great Britain are not sickened by the use of chemical weapons. It seems that the opposition of the use of weapons of mass destruction such as sarin gas should be total and universal, that a Security Council vote to punish Syria should have been quickly taken to send the message that nations of the world will not tolerate the use of the chemical weapons. Sarin gas, a lethal, colorless, odorless liquid nerve agent, has been outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. That doesn’t stop countries from having stockpiles of the gas.

We live in the world as it is, not the world as we wish it were. Other nations live by different sets of rules than America; we can promote democracy and liberty but not all peoples and rulers of the world are receptive to that message.

The American people are suffering from war fatigue; after 12 years of military action in the Middle East the public has no stomach for a new war. Many fear that bombing to punish Syria is just a prelude to our men and women storming the beach at Tartus or Latakia.

Though there is strong evidence that the chemical attacks in Syrian came from Assad’s government it is not 100 percent proven, and that’s reason enough not to attack. President Obama doesn’t want more military action in the Middle East; he painted himself in a corner with his ‘red line’ in the sand remarks. His secretary of state has pulled him back from the brink. For those who counsel to exhaust every diplomatic move before acting militarily are correct.

It should be asked why a plan for Syria to give up every bit of its chemical weapon inventory wasn’t put forth by the administration, or Kerry, as a serious alternative to military action. Political pundits and talking heads will be split on this diplomatic gambit. Some are stoking for war, others for talk.

Despite one’s ideological views, all can agree that America should never shy away from talking first before acting; it never hurts and it can only helps, as we, hopefully, will see as the negotiations about Syria get underway in earnest. Any step that avoids an avoidable war  is a good step

— LAZ

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