Congress is preparing to vote early next week on whether the U.S. should intervene in Syria, as President Obama tries to rally support for military action. We talk to a group of local Syrian-Americans about their views on the crisis and possible U.S. intervention.

Feras Alhlou, president of the Northern California Chapter of the Syrian-American Council
Tareq Samman, graphic artist and native Syrian
Suzan Boulad, graduate of Mills College, raised in Sacramento

  • Albert

    Is it not true that Assad paid off all national debts? There are certainly some interests in the world that would be outraged that any country would dare be free of debt slavery. The USA is one of them. Our empire was built by putting weak nations in debt.

  • Bob Fry

    So if only adult men were killed, we shouldn’t care, but OMG, women and children were gassed! Go to war!

    We aren’t the world’s police, as much as some think we are. In the last 10+ years we’ve invaded 2 countries, got Saddam Hussein killed, killed Osama bin Laden, killed hundreds of al Quada (and hundreds of civilians apparently) with drone strikes, yet Assad seemingly still used chemical weapons. There isn’t a problem here of our “credibility”, and attacking Syria won’t do a thing about credibility. Here’s an idea: let’s not go to war, let’s be a democracy, and let that be credible.

    • Chris OConnell

      I am always a bit offended by the “women and children” thing. It is a sexist and outdated phrase, or concern.

      • thucy

        Not to fracture your gender-less, and rose-colored Bay Area perspective but… Women and children remain by far the vast MINORITY of combatants, on both a current and historical basis.

  • Jeff

    Has anyone given thought to changing the rules of the UN so that no one country can veto action? The UN would be much more effective if we put everything to a direct vote of all its members.

    • Meta

      That means Israel will lose a lot. The US have veto UN resolutions against Israel 42 times..

  • Ameena Jandali

    The problem with the discourse around intervention is that 1. Russia and Iran have been intervening from the very beginning with a continuous flow of arms, advisors, and even fighters on the ground – so intervention is already happening unabated. 2. This situation is closer to Bosnia than Iraq where 100k people died before U.S. intervention ended the genocide there.

    • Bob Fry

      Who will end our genocide in the countries we invade?

    • thucy

      This is no Bosnia, not with Putin sitting on the other end of Assad.

  • Chris OConnell

    Many Somali-Americans may want us to intervene there. Many Chinese-Americans may want us to intervene there. North Korean Americans want us to intervene there. Many Cuban Americans want us to intervene there. Many Venezuelan Americans want us to intervene there.

    Such voices are important and are worth hearing but they often reflect what people who have fled these countries want to happen in their old societies, but usually not what the US could and/or should do there.

    • Albert

      Somehow I doubt all of the “intervene for me” people would be willing to join the US military to make it happen.

      “You die for me, not me for you.”

      • Bill Tutuki

        What happen to stimulating the defense contractors? Remember during the W. Bush era when Iraq was at play. There was stories on how certain contractors like Blackwater benefited from war. Look What if we did not have wars how much higher will the US Unemployment be? How many cities and states will go bankrupt because their only industry is the Military and Defense Contractors.

        • thucy

          Bill, if we did not have wars, there is every possibility our economy could finally rebound.

          • Bill Tutuki

            Thanks! I know its possible for cities to survive without military contractors but I never knew how. I knew that San Francisco used to have Fort Mason at Presidio before it was converted into a park. I knew Oakland used to have the Navy base before it was converted into the Port of Oakland. Its just that nobody in the cable media talks about who will benefit from not invading Syria. Its just that we have to wait for the invasion of Syria to find out which defense contractors made money off sending WMD’s to both the USA and Syrian militaries.

  • Robert Thomas

    I have been listening for some time to both heated an measured discussions about the proper action the Western powers should or should not take in Syria. From these, I still have no idea whether any action would be ultimately beneficial or harmful for the people there.

    The president’s calculus, though, in making his “red line” declaration, has very little to do with the welfare of the Syrian people. It had to do with the relation between the chief executive and the welfare of his all-volunteer force.

    People truly are just as dead whether they’re incinerated, concussed, blown apart, mowed dow or paralyzed by nerve agent. But army recruits have to be convinced that there is an enemy they can fight against on the battlefield- an enemy they can shoot back at. Every recruiter in every shopping mall across the country (as my recruiter brother-in-law once explained) displays all kinds of cool technology to potential recruits – except one. The potential recruit will never see a gas mask on the recruiter’s desk. Not even, as I have said, a Google Gas Mask.

    • thucy

      One of the best scenes in “Jarhead”, a film based on a book about one Marine’s experiences in Gulf War I, was the gas mask scene.
      I well remember the anxiety I felt for my ex and his friends ten years after that war when they were stop-lossed back into service in 2002. It may not be in recruiting materials (what is?) but it’s been a concern among enlistees since Gulf I.

      • Robert Thomas

        An experienced soldier and his loved ones know a lot more, as you say.

        I have another experience, myself.

        Fifteen years ago, I was at White Sands Missile Range near Alamogordo, working on a thing there called the Joint Tactical Ground Station Multi-Mission Mobile Processor (!). This vehicle had “toxic atmosphere” countermeasures, which at one point I remarked upon, quizzically. Later, a soldier explained that launch vicinities can be polluted with noxious and toxic combustion products as a matter of course or due to launch failure- or there can be other situations. He asked me if I wanted to see some of their other measures for avoiding these eventualities and I said yes, indeed.

        After this, I remarked on the gallantry of soldiers, who volunteer to fight in such circumstances. My host responded emphatically that it was his privilege and the privilege of his comrades to do this. Yet, I think I detected a particular keenness to convey the seriousness of their purpose (I’m clumsy describing this) in showing me these things. I’ve never forgotten it, that’s for sure.

  • Robert Thomas

    I don’t recall ever reading about much in the way of intervention of Romanovs, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Ottoman Turks – or for that matter, the Hanoverians – in the American Civil War. Were there, in fact?

    • thucy

      There was a short tradition of (post-1848 euro uprisings) abolitionist Europeans coming to the US to fight for the North. At least one of them is buried here in the Presidio, as he continued his service post-Civil War. But our knowledge of this would have required learning about “the quarantotto” uprisings in US schools.

      That said, I’m against a military strike against Syrians, on the basis that we just keep making “things” mored messed up.

  • MattCA12

    To be honest I just don’t know. I hate these bastards in the regime who are massacring their own people, and I would love for the US to stand up against what is going on. What if they were your children, your parents, getting squashed like a bug and no one cared? But my hesitation is, as the guest says, I’m just not sure it would actually lessen the suffering. In fact, it could easily just make things worse. It is a damned awful mess, and I don’t envy our president. I’m not sure there is a right answer, just a less worse one.

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