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Letters: What message to send on Syria?

September 08, 2013

Re "No credibility, no trust," and "Credibility shouldn't be a factor," Opinion, Sept. 5

Benny Morris misconstrues President Obama's deliberative approach in seeking the appropriate response to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons as a sign of indecision and political weakness. He attempts to extend this mistaken conclusion regarding the president's cautious approach to the Iranian nuclear problem.

Morris' flawed argument serves as a classic illustration of what Rajan Menon, in his opposing Op-Ed article, calls the "credibility gambit." As Menon points out, these are arguments that combine "sleight of hand with lazy thinking."

Because Obama has not acted as aggressively as Morris would like, Obama's credibility as a political leader is suddenly suspect. And therefore, with respect to the Iranian nuclear program, he is not to be trusted when it comes to launching a preemptive strike against Iran.

In a cynical ploy to promote a military confrontation, Morris seeks to enlist U.S. firepower as a proxy for Israeli interests.

Andrew Spathis

Los Angeles

If Obama doesn't show his "mettle" in Syria, he won't show his "mettle" in Iran, says Morris. Therefore, we are giving Iran the green light to create nuclear warfare — as if it cares how we deal with Syria.

You can't read Morris' piece without feeling the ultimate threat of a nuclear holocaust either against Israel or the U.S. He made me feel as if Hitler is waiting in the wings for the right moment to take out Israel. I'm not ready to be that paranoid.

Morris might be a great historian, but he has no idea what the stakes are if the U.S. invades the sovereign nation of Syria. We would be entering hell without any kind of exit strategy, no matter what our president tells us.

Benny Wasserman

La Palma

Who thinks it's OK to kill little kids with poison gas? Almost no one. Who thinks it's OK to stand by while this is being done? Lots of people, apparently. Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

A largely symbolic cruise missile strike may prove ineffective, but it would be better than the symbolism of doing nothing. Otherwise, we're giving permission for the use of chemical weapons.

It is clearly in our national interest to keep the sarin genie in the bottle.

Scott McKenzie

La Cañada Flintridge

Degrading Syrian President Bashar Assad's capabilities, sending him a message, punishing him — these are all short-term goals that will have long-term, unforeseeable consequences. Who is going to clean up the mess afterward?

Remember Colin Powell's Pottery Barn rule: If you break it, you own it.

Jeffrey Handleman

Los Angeles


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