Dear Senator Feinstein,
Thanks very much for your thoughtful response and for taking the time to address specific issues.
I am still quite distressed at some of the assertions in your letter that we know now are not factually correct. I urge you to look much deeper into some of the information with which you are being provided and remind yourself that you reached the same conclusion about launching a war against Iraq. You know now that you were fed half-truths and unreliable information back then by the same sources who are feeding you this information. I urge you not to repeat the same mistake. You know better than anyone that there is no such thing as a “limited military strike” against a country like Syria that has signed a strategic defense pact with Iran. When the first missile is launched no one can predict the sequence of events. Vietnam, Korea, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan should provide us with ample proof of that.
Here are some of the assertions that I respectfully challenge and urge you to look deeper into:
1- Although it appears certain that a chemical attack took place in Ghouta, there isn’t a smoking gun or undisputed evidence that points to the Syrian government carrying it out. As MANY have pointed out: why would the Syrian government have done so since it has been winning the military offensive against the rebels? Why did our government jump the gun and completely undercut the UN inspectors who were just starting their investigation? What Secretary Kerry stated that “delay tactics are diminishing the evidence” is just absurd. We can still test for the existence of agent Orange in Vietnam decades after its use! Russia has presented evidence to the UN that it may have been rebel groups using smuggled chemical weapons (either from army defectors or from Saudi Arabia or other sources) to drag the US into the civil war after they have lost important military battles against the government. So asserting that the syrian government carried out the attack is only a statement that the US and French governments are making. No one else seems to support that assertion with such certainty. Please read Hans Blix’s article in the Guardian on August 29th about this topic.
2- Where did Kerry get the number 1,429!? Even the Syrian observatory for Human rights (the opposition human rights organization) puts the number at around 500. French intelligence puts it at less than 300! Why is our government trying to assert such an exaggerated figure that is impossible to verify in the midst of the chaos of the civil war in Syria.
3- As you know, international law also states that a country cannot attack another country except in the case of clear self defense or with authorization from the Security Council. If you are going to reference international law then you should at least listen to the Secretary General of the UN who is the guardian of international law. He is opposed to a military strike and considers it illegal unless authorized by the Security Council.
4- How is it possible that not a single credible opposition party in Syria, including our alleged allies, have called on the US to intervene militarily? When Secretary Kerry was asked about that in the hearing he said he didn’t know of any! Shouldn’t that give us pause!? People who have sacrificed their lives fighting against Assad are calling on us not to intervene militarily.
5- If the US takes action then it will send a message to the rest of the world that we are hypocrites. We now know that the Reagan administration facilitated delivery of chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein in the 80’s to use against Iran. We know that our government has used chemical weapons extensively in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Iraq (in Fallujah). We know that the Israelis used White Phosphorous in Gaza. Not only did we do nothing in any of these incidents, we actually defended the use of chemical weapons then. To say now that it is such an immoral outrage when someone in Syria uses them makes us look like hypocrites. If we are truly concerned about the use of chemical weapons then let’s punish the companies that manufacture them in the US, UK, Israel and elsewhere. Let’s get the UN to strengthen its regime of inspection and let’s most of all commit to never using them again ourselves! The world will respect us much more then.
It is disheartening to see that our leaders have become so enamored with the use of military power that we are incapable of imagining any other solutions to world problems. Syria would become the seventh Muslim nation that we have bombed or invaded (the other six are Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan). Just think about that!
Dr. Nasser Barghouti