Veterans’ Group Responds to President Obama’s Call to War

September 12, 2013

logo-high-res.jpgVeterans For Peace continues to strongly oppose U.S. military intervention, whether direct or indirect, in the civil war that is currently raging in Syria.

President Obama’s September 10th address to the nation failed to provide a compelling argument for intervention and left many basic questions unanswered and set justification for intervention squarely on logical leaps and counterfactual fallacies.

It is a logical fallacy to say, as the President did, that U.S. military inaction will embolden other dictators into “acquiring poison gas[es], and using them.” It is a leap to say that U.S. military inaction will create conditions for “al Qaeda [to] only draw strength in a more chaotic” Syria. We reject the President’s assertion that it is in the national security interest of the United States to intervene in Syria, and we reject the implication that military might is by default an effective response to atrocities abroad.

VFP strongly urges the Administration to pursue the recent diplomatic opportunity provided by Russian and Syrian leaders regarding Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons. This international effort also reaffirms the importance of U.S. participation in international treaties like the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the International Criminal Court.

VFP condemns the use of all chemical weapons, as well as the targeting of civilians with conventional weapons. We have watched with horror as the Syrian people have suffered for over two years from violence committed with conventional and non-conventional weapons alike. Peace is served by collecting and destroying chemical weapons and holding perpetrators accountable to international law. This is the course that must be followed if current negotiations fail, not U.S. military intervention which will certainly lead to more lives lost.

The American public is very skeptical of President Obama’s case for war. People have different reasons for opposing military intervention, but chief among them is, after nearly 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are tired of war. We have been more than once tricked into supporting unjust wars—most recently with the false pretense of Saddam Hussein’s al Qaeda ties and Weapons of Mass Destruction stockpiles provided as pretext to invade Iraq. Those claims, similar to those being used to justify intervention in Syria, caused millions of dead and displaced Iraqis, thousands of dead U.S. service members and—in the end—cost trillions of U.S. dollars.

As a result, the American people have overwhelmingly rejected President Obama’s call for military action in Syria. When Congress votes on the President’s military plans later this month, Congress should follow the public’s lead on this issue.

Indeed, the true WMD in the case of the Iraq War was U.S. propaganda. The world cannot afford another unnecessary war of choice at the hands of the U.S. government—whether approved by Congress or not. We reject the idea that the U.S. or the West should be the standard-bearer of morality in the world.

The truer motivations for wars such as these—profit, access and control of resources such as oil, and the extension of U.S. power —are not more important than the sanctity of human life. VPF supports neither the use of chemical weapons—regardless of who deploys them—nor military intervention in a raging civil war—by the U.S. or anyone else. Put simply, the civil war raging in Syria will not end through more military force, but a robust and sustained diplomatic effort.

As veterans representing every war since WWII, we are not war weary, but rather war wise. We know the cost of war from direct personal experience. We know that, whether a so called “pinprick” or robust but limited strike, military intervention will only exacerbate the conflict, not solve it. The conflict in Syria suffers a problem of too much war and not enough diplomacy, the former of which the United States should in no way contribute. War is not today, nor will it ever be, the way to solve the conflict in Syria.


Veterans For Peace National Board