Amelia Ramsey-Lefevre's Remarks Against US Intervention in Syria - 8.30.13

We stand again on the verge of illegally going to war under false pretenses. The Obama administration is positioning cruise missiles off the coast of Syria in response to the supposed crossing of a “red line,” without even letting UN inspectors complete an investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21. Perhaps the US government wants to preempt the UN investigation because a prior such investigation of a smaller attack in May suggested that rebel forces could have been responsible for the attack. Or perhaps the Obama administration knows that the UN mandate is limited to confirming that the attack was in fact chemical weapons, not who perpetrated this atrocity, and so their allegations cannot be confirmed anyway. Once again, the US government is using the façade of humanitarianism as an excuse for rushing to war.

This attack was horrific and the people of Syria have suffered massively during the past two years, but we urge the Obama administration to reconsider its methods.

This threat of war is unfounded and hypocritical. Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people.” Did Barack Obama demand accountability from the US government when it used white phosphorus, cluster bombs, or depleted uranium? What about Agent Orange or the atomic bomb?

The Obama administration makes no claim that there is an imminent threat to US safety in Syria. So what is the justification for evading the legal channels for going to war, namely seeking approval from the US Congress and the UN Security Council?

Isn’t there another way? Will bombs really help the people of Syria? As we speak there are 96 cruise missiles positioned off the coast of Syria, valued at $461 million. For the moment let’s ignore other costs associated with striking Syria (estimated at $1 billion per month if there will be ongoing operations) and just consider the cost of these bombs. The UN has raised just 36% of the $4.4 billion dollars it has asked for to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The price of those 96 bombs could close the approximately $400 million aid gap for food programs within Syria, or the $330 million gap for emergency non-food items and shelter.

The Syracuse Peace Council calls for:

  • Diplomacy – Work to de-escalate the conflict and use diplomatic pressure to bring about a political settlement. 
  • Respect for the US Constitution and international law – Obama does not have the legal authority to bomb Syria without a vote from Congress. Internationally, the US also does not have the legal right to bomb Syria without UN Security Council approval. 
  • Humanitarian aid – To prevent as much suffering as possible, the US government should ramp up involvement in international efforts to address the humanitarian crises affecting millions of Syrian civilians, many of whom have become internal and external refugees. As of July 25, only 36% of the $4.4 billion requested for humanitarian aid by the UN had been raised. (See the humanitarian aid data here.)

The civil war in Syria has already seen an enormous loss of life. Our main goal in opposing US military strikes on Syria is to prevent escalation of the war and further loss of life. There is no evidence that bombing Syria will make life better for Syrian civilians, and history teaches us that US military involvement could have catastrophic unintended consequences. This will be true regardless of what the evidence eventually shows about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

We call on President Obama to heed the vast majority of Americans who oppose US military intervention in Syria. Recent polling shows only a small minority of Americans support military strikes on Syria.

We call on Representative Dan Maffei and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to assert Congressional authority and oppose Obama’s unilateral decision-making on US military involvement in Syria.

We urge you to contact your representatives:
Call the White House at (202) 456-1111.
Call Representative Dan Maffei (202) 225-3701 and Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (202) 224-3121 (both of whom support a missile strike).