Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria

Paul Wellman

Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria

To Strike Or Not To Strike?

After Obama Speech, Capps Still Undecided on Syria

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
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Last week, it seemed like the president was speeding toward a military conflict with Syria when he put on the brakes and decided to ask Congress for authorization. Then, as the vote loomed, Russia interceded with a last-minute offer to collaborate on a diplomatic solution. In a speech on Tuesday night, President Obama asked Congress to delay its vote.

In an exclusive interview with The Santa Barbara Independent after the speech, Congressmember Lois Capps, who represents Santa Barbara, said she was happy the vote was delayed because she was “still undecided.” “Is a military strike going to make things better or worse — for the region, for our national security?” Capps asked. That is the key question that needs to be definitively answered before she makes up her mind. The fact that the opinions currently are so divergent, said Capps, “indicates how conflicted this area is, how tough these issues are, and how important it is for us as a nation to be very measured in our response.”

Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria

Capps, whose most defining vote may be the one she cast in opposition to the Iraq War, said that Syria has some similarities but also “many differences.” Both are geographically similar, and they are both threats to Israel, she said. Both are also ruled by ruthless dictators willing to “kill their own people to secure their power.” On the other hand, she said, we know for a fact that chemical weapons were used in Syria whereas weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq. Also, she said, the president is arguing for a “limited strike” and not regime change.

Even so, Capps’s constituents — over 3,000 of whom have contacted her — are overwhelmingly opposed to a military intervention in Syria. Some of them were waving signs at drivers on State Street Monday evening in front of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. One of the participants at the vigil, replicated in 75 cities across the country, was retired UCSB sociology professor and longtime activist Dick Flacks. He said it would be “unprecedented for the U.S. to launch a unilateral act of war” before pontificating on a tale of two Obamas. The “imperial president,” he said, had to back up his threat to punish the use of chemical weapons. The president showed the opposite tendency, however, Flacks opined, when he decided to ask the American people via Congress.

In his speech, Obama made the case for military action. “My fellow Americans,” he said, “for nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements. It has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.”

Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Protestors gather downtown to speak out against American military action in Syria

If a vote had been taken by Congress, the indications are that force would not have been authorized. Capps said she understands that after two foreign wars in the past decade, Congress and the public are weary of the burden. “Just think of Santa Maria bearing its own casualty of war just a few days ago,” she said, referring to Army Specialist Kenneth Alvarez, 23, who was killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan on August 23.

While Obama said there would be no open-ended commitment as there was in Iraq or Afghanistan, the failure to respond to the use of chemical weapons would embolden others in the future. “And that is why,” he said, “after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”

Capps, who would have liked to hear the president pledge humanitarian aid, said she agreed our national interests were bound up with Syria and the Middle East, but she has not made up her mind on whether airstrikes are necessary, indicating that she would prefer a diplomatic solution. “If [our deliberations over Syria] in any way leave us with a blueprint for ways of resolving conflict that don’t lead to war, then this [process] will not have been a waste,” she said.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 12:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

“I didn’t set a red line, the world set a red line.” - Obama

OK, so what does the rest of the world want to do? USA has lummoxed around quite enough in the Middle East, unremunerated & resented. Our infrastructure crumbles, while homebody China has been building new bridges willy-nilly. Jihadis don't break a sweat over Uyghur rights, wonder why....

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 12:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

OBAMA DIDN'T SET A RED LINE!! He must have a twin then, I could have sworn he was on tv just a few short weeks ago saying, "The use of chemical weapons would be a red line".. But then again liberals are masters at word play, finger pointing and deception. AND Lois Capps make a decision!! Now that's funny. She must not have gotten her marching orders from Peelosi yet...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 7:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Many of Capps's constituents will absolutely hold it against her and remember if she ends up voting YES on such a strike resolution. Listen to Obushama fibbing..."...for nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security." In a few cases, certainly, But in many cases we have CAUSED disturbances in global security: Grenada, Panama, Bay of Pigs, IRAQ!! Afghanistan, Vietnam... Check your history Obama: we were no "anchor" of security in 1941 [his "70 years" ago]: isolationism led by Sens. Vandenberg and Borah and others was very very strong and FDR could not talk the country or Congress into anything more than Lend Lease [50 overage destroyers] while UK was on its knees under the Blitzkrieg Luftwaffe attacks. It took the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 12/7/41 to get us to arm up and take on Hitler and the Japanese [Togo], we made no honorable decision to defeat these dictators.
Why don't we take out the N. Korea guy, too, he starves millions of his people? Why don't we attack China for taking down Tibet? Does anyone think Obama OR any Republican has the wisdom to sort out the mess in the Middle East or Syria? Get real.
Please write Lois to vote NO!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 9:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to go down and protest, I wish I could have been there with you but I was not aware of a protest occurring. And I was probably busy arguing with Herschel on the internet.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 4:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dan your argument that since we do not go after every bad actor on the international stage, therefore we should do nothing about Syria is illogical. Just because we cannot do everthing does not mean we should do nothing.
Your 1941 reference is flawed. FDR was doing eveything he could short of actually going to war, including the first peacetime draft in US history and a huge rearmament program. We had an embargo on exports of raw materials including petroleum to Japan. The US Navy was in an undeclared war with Germany in the Battle of the Atlantic that was waged to help supplies get to England. You know the old Woody Guthrie song, "Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names, Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?" Well it was sunk by a U Boat before we had declared war.
Destroyers for bases was in 1940. that was the 50 destoyers that you disparage. By the way before Lend Lease we were selling massive amounts of arms and materials to the Aliies (the Russians after June 1941) for cash. After Lend Lease was passed FDR earmarked one billion dollars of aid for the UK (that is when a billion ment something). In the early 1940's we were doing much to support the forces of freedom in the world. Check your history Dr. Dan.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 5:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I notice Obama is playing the "women and children" card. How many "women and children" (since apparenty men are immune from feeling the pain of bombs dropping on their villages) have died from American air strikes?

Hypocritical much?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 7:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Whatever Obama says.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 9:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Capps had no problem going against the Bush War and against her party at one time. Nothing has changed, in fact even less is at stake. Capps lacks a moral center, if she is still dithering on this issue.

Her no vote was expendable to her party the last time; this time her party loyalty vote is critical because Obama does not have the bi-partisan support Bush unfortunately enjoyed, closer to the trauma of 9-11.

Voting party to go to war is morally reprehensible, Mrs Capps. You discredit your first no vote and smear your constituents with your current partisan situational ethics.

Mrs Capps, is this the legacy you leave for your husband's memory in this town? Leave this office with a shred of decency and vote your conscience you so nobly portrayed, when war was also the wrong choice in Iraq. The screams of the hundreds of thousands of children we killed in Iraq are the ones you need to listen to tonight. The screams of children in our own crime ridden country should be deafening your ears too. Why do you want to put US fingerprints on any more of them.

There is nothing in the present situation that compels anyone in the US, other than blind and ignorant fealty to support an equally flawed character who now just happens to be a member of your party now sitting in the White House. That is not good enough Mrs Capps. You know it, we know it and your God knows it.

Do not hide behind your claim to have superior information from this "classified" briefing, but you can't share it. Yes you can, and yes you must. There can be no dirty secrets when the consequence is even dirtier for the rest of us. This is war, destruction and lives at stake. This is not time for partisan games. It is not time to go to war again because of someone else's lies.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
September 11, 2013 at 9:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is another false flag. We have no reason to interpret it as anything else.
Capps voted the democratic party line in Iraq.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
September 16, 2013 at 5:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

HG, I did state "FDR could not talk the country or Congress into anything more than Lend Lease", which isn't far from your: "FDR was doing eveything he could short of actually going to war... " Yes, FDR did more but he had to be sneaky about it. In Oct. 1937 FDR made a speech in Chicago about making a "quarantine of the aggressor states of the world" which was NOT well-received in most of the USA: a Feb. 1939 Gallup Poll had 58% of Americans stating Congress needed to ask the People about entering any European conflict. [source: John Lukacs, THE LEGACY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR 2010].
But your well-taken point is beside my main point in the post which was what a laugh that we take seriously Obushama's statement that "...for nearly seven decades the United States has been the anchor of global security." OK, perhaps so when the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor happened in Dec. 1941 [Japan has been mercilessly invading China for about 6 years by then; we did nothing].
But how pious and misleading and Bushlike this jingoistic pandering to oh Noble America. We were dragged into W.W. II, whatever about FDR. We invaded S. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, Panama... this is about maintenance of our empire, let's be blunt about that.
It is always important to keep reading up on history, so I'm back at some W.W. II books.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 18, 2013 at 5:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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