Mixed local reaction to action in Syria

As President Barrack Obama continues to garner public and congressional support for a potential military strike against Syria for President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, residents locally are divided about what action should be taken. Some want the United States to move forward diplomatically with Russia, while others believe punishing Syria for its actions is the only way to prevent further war crimes.

Joanne Tasker of Long Lake said the United States has been more concerned about what is transpiring in the Middle East than what is happening at home. She said she doesn’t believe military strikes will have a lasting effect on al-Assad’s actions moving forward.

“If we bomb Syria I think it is going to make matters worse,” Tasker said. “I think he did use chemical weapons and it killed a lot of people, but at some point we have to let them fight their own battles. There are enough things here that need to get fixed. We can’t keep worrying about everyone else when America is in such poor shape.”

A vote on military action in the United States Senate has been delayed to give diplomacy a chance, Russia, Syria and the United Nations are scrambling to put a plan in place that would lead to the surrender of all chemical weapons by Assad.

Tom Richards said if a deal can be reached with Syria that ensures al-Assad can’t use weapons of mass destruction again, that is what he would support. He said he has doubts it will happen however. He said he is watching closely on how world events play out and how Obama proceeds.

“It sounds like there is some positive news that maybe Syria is willing to work with the Russia, but it could all be a ploy to buy time and maybe move the weapons,” Richards said. “I think something should be done to Syria to make sure chemical weapons aren’t used again, but on the other hand, when is enough enough? We don’t have the support we have had for the other wars, so that is not good. I don’t know what the president is going to do, but it sounds like he might have his mind made up already.”

Obama has been on a crusade to drum up support for a strike on Syria. He has promised that it would be a very limited strike on key military targets and the that no U.S. troops would be on the ground. Edward Dunckle, visiting Alpena from the Tawas area, said in order for al-Assad and other radical leaders to take the United States seriously, swift and powerful action needs to be taken.

“We need to support the president and I support bombing them if we have to,” Dunckle said. “The guy massacred innocent women and children with chemical weapons and he should not be allowed a second chance no matter what Russia or the United Nations say. If we let this go there will be others who will do the same thing because the fear of retaliation from the U.S. will be gone. I don’t ever want to put our soldiers at risk, but we can’t just sit by and not do anything.”

Rep. Dan Benishek has been communicating with his constituents on Facebook and also fielding calls at his office about the Syria issue. He said in Michigan’s 1st Congresssional District a majority of the people are against military intervention in Syria. As a result, he said he plans to vote ‘no’ when a vote comes before the House of Representatives.

“I believe a majority of northern Michigan’s citizens have grown tired of war in the Middle East and are very wary of getting involved in another nation’s civil war,” Benishek said. “That’s why I’m planning to vote against taking military action in Syria. The killing of innocent people in Syria has been horrible, but I don’t think getting our nation in the middle of their conflict is in America’s best interest.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com