NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 7, 2013

War-weary nation looks glumly at Syrian fiasco

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I was halfway through my morning newspaper when Big Freddy showed up, tossed his paper on the table, waved to the waitress and wedged himself into his seat.

“You’re late,” I said.

“Thanks for noticing, Freddy said.

“You’re in a testy mood,” I said.

“Isn’t everybody?” Freddy said. “Here we are again with another ‘Hell, no, we won’t go’ in Syria reaction, and the polls are showing the only ones supporting Obama in Congress are those whose arms have been twisted one way or another.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I said. “He’s not taking us to war. He wants to do what needs be done according to what the nations of the world agreed should be done to forbid the use of poison gas.”

“Face reality,” Freddy said. “If Obama had his way and bombed last week, Act 2 would be all over by now. But Acts 3 and 4, and nobody knows how many more acts would be in the making.”

“But he’s absolutely right about the need to react against Syria using poison gas,” I said. “Killing 1,000 innocent men, women and something like 300 children, and the killers get a pass? What does that lead to?”

“It led to Obama being absolutely dead wrong that others would support a military strike just because he believes it’s the right thing to do,” Freddy said.

“That’s what Bush did following what went down after 9/11, and look what that’s cost us.”

“Well the jury’s still out on the lack of support for Obama,” I said.

“There have been some switches. John McCain and Linsey Graham were against what Obama wants to do, but now they’re for it, and so’s John Boehner, the Republican chairman of the House.”

“With less support than what would make Obama comfortable,” Freddy said. “And look at the polls. They’re ranging from only 20 to 30 percent in favor of what he wants to do.”

“Understandable,” I said. “We’ve had a dozen years of warmaking so it’s enough already. That’s part of why Britain’s Parliament majority voted no.”

“Because it’s to sell that we have a dog in that fight,” Freddy said.

“Get real. What we have over there is a country where its leader believes it’s OK to kill innocent children and whoever happens to be there, and the only one standing up to the plate to do something about that right now and taking the heat for it is Obama.

“I don’t know that much about arm twisting in France, but a lot of that is going on here, despite those voting on it putting party loyalty on the shelf and voting their conscience.

“As for that, Elizabeth Warren is saying something like ‘maybe okay, but’...and Ed Markey’s doing his best fence straddle by just taking a pass.”

“Understandable,” I said. “What Obama wants to do seems more like what got us in the troubles we’ve had since way back when, and neither Warren or Markey have had to face anything like this before.

“What seems to have got Obama in trouble was misreading the reaction he’d get. That leaves the question as to why he was in so much of a rush.”

“As for that, the world’s on fast forward to whatever wherever, and we just might live long enough to find out what Obama’s rush to action has really been about.

“Let’s hope the outcome isn’t what he apparently fears.”

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.