, Newburyport, MA


September 20, 2013

How could we get to this conundrum?

To the editor:

In a prior life, I served as deputy assistant secretary of Defense (Environment). In 1989, I signed off on the Department of the Army’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for destruction of stockpiles of chemical weapons. This EIS completion took over 10 years to reach decisions on how best to clean up eight primary storage sites. The final destruction decision was to build eight individual facilities because of safety (no transport from site-to-site) and technology (incineration).

Construction started while I was still at the Pentagon in 1990, and weapon destruction continues now, almost 25 years later. Chemical weapons, to me, are the scariest things I have ever seen, including nukes. Every time I entered an igloo or process plant, I shivered. Storage of these chemicals is a huge maintenance and safety problem.

Granted the conditions in Syria are not the same. They have no EIS, EPA, OSHA, ACLU, Department of Justice, Greenie Weenies or environmental police (i.e., USA-controlled conditions to the max). Their regard for protecting human life is minimal, their weapon storage is wide-spread, uncontained and they are in the midst of a vicious civil war. And, Syria is a surrogate of Russia and Iran, who have little concern for civil rights.

In my opinion, the politicians are more interested in a face-saving way out; then they are in a realistic solution. By finding a way to drag the negotiation process out long enough (a la nukes in Iran negotiations), they expect us to lose sight of the ball, then declare victory. Plainly, it is an impossible mission to adequately clean up the Syria battlefield under combat conditions.

Do I advocate dropping bombs for a “pinprick strike” or any other strike? No! We can’t afford military action; we should not enter any action where the unintended consequences are beyond our control; and, we should not trust the president on anything he says. His Syrian policies during this crisis are mind-boggling. Because the president has dug himself a hole, it does not mean we should abet him digging deeper.

William Parker


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