BOULDER-The fountain area outside of the University of Colorado has seen many decades of rallies, demonstrations, and vigils. Today was yet another against a possible war on Syria by the US. Moments before this action, organized by members of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, US Secretary of State John Kerry had just finished a press conference. Here he said, “After what was clear and compelling evidence that Syrian president Bashar al-Asaad had poisoned his own people with chemical gases that the US is considering an attack on the country.”
University of Colorado, Boulder student Matt, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, is a Junior in the Department of Anthropology, “It’s since the beginning of the Arab Spring. It’s been an issue that’s been on my mind as well as the other nations in the area and their changes in their political systems. How I feel about Syria now is that it’s a very complex issue [that] we don’t have enough information on. I think that we need to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and what we might be getting ourselves into because the truth may not be revealed to us until later. We need to do our duty as a citizen of a global community and form solidarity with the rest of the world. It’s like the UN suggests and find out more about what we can do, and what should be done and what’s happening right now.”
I’m Al Canner. I’m recently retired as a legal writing teacher at the Law School here. I was on the faculty for 8 years.
What do you hope next steps will be, for the US?
“I hope that our president will get the message that this is an inappropriate step to take; that you don’t assist people who have been victimized by their government by bombing those people. Our country has repeated this scenario that we seem to be leading up to making a determination and as we know sometimes ultimately unfounded. That there’s such a moral atrocity occurring that we have to as a single nation step in and be an international punisher. It always has led, even in our most recent memory to no good for the victimized citizens whom we’re supposedly helping for our own country economically, the lives of our sons, our daughters. No good will come from this. So our hope is that with enough people realizing this and notifying their elected officials, calling the white house and doing it immediately cause at any moment this step can be taken unilaterally by our president. So this is the action that we hope people will take.”
How would you like the US to behave in the future, say after the next few months?
“Well these issues of international outrage and surely many of them exist are matters for an international community. Wonderfully we have that body. It’s called the United Nations. They’re the body to see whether or not something has occurred that needs an international sanction or other response. It’s not for our country or I believe any single country to determine that because some atrocity has happened, it has the authority, the arrogance, to take military action against another country. That is simply not the appropriate role for this or any country.”
Ann Reid Boise, I’m with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. I think we should stay out of Syria for a number of reasons. Number one, at this point, they have not clearly established that the government of Syria actually used chemical weapons and I think that we all need to know that in a much more concrete way. Number two, the whole issue of bombing another country or a military intervention it’s very difficult because there’s no exit plan. There’ no plan. Are we replacing this government or are we just bombing them and then hoping they’ll stop bombing. There’s such volatility in that whole area that the best approach is to use diplomatic means and to really call a major summit on the middle east and address all the interrelated diplomatic issues from Iranian involvement to Hezbollah involvement to our involvement to so many issues that diplomacy is really the beginning and obviously they should have been using diplomatic means for probably the last two years in an effective way. As this war has become more and more inhumane, I’m not sure that the people of Syria themselves want us bombing their country. It is a vexed question went it comes down to humanitarian issues. But clearly the violence it just seems to escalate and go nowhere. Real peace-making measures should occur and the US could lead in that area.”
Dan winters is a longtime peace activist and member of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, “Secretary of State Kerry just finished about a 25 minute speech at 1230, 1130 our time going over what he thinks the United States what we know what the rest of the world knows and yet did not really bring forth any proof. He just brought forth allegations. And he also said that really what the United Nations is not going to be able to tell us where the missiles came from which carried the poison gas. So basically, the UN is now again made irrelevant just the way it was in 2002, 2003 when they didn’t allow time for weapons inspectors to finish their job. So it pretty much looks like a done deal. Kerry, it’s interesting of course because he was the one who spoke out so forcefully and so clearly when he left Vietnam in the Winter Soldier episode. So there he was totally against the war. In the first Iraq war in ’91 he was totally against that. And he switched in 2003 he was for it, and now he’s for it again. So that’s all I can say about Kerry. And Obama of course, he’s changed so many times, so many things and now has locked himself into that ‘Assad must go’ regardless of anything else, ‘Assad must go’ which of course eliminates any possibility of discussion of any kind of peace deal, of any kind of brokering that can be done by the Arab league or other interested party.
What do you hope happens immediately in the future, say as the next step? I mean obviously you want peace. Obviously you want diplomatic relations and conversation but what would you like as a next step?
Well Dan Winters being me, really doesn’t have any great concrete suggestions but I say let’s follow what the rest of the international community is saying and that the best way to end this is through dialogue, through discussions, through negotiations between the interested parties and Syria. Not in us destroying who knows how many buildings, how many houses and we’ll of course hear dramatic evidence of civilians being killed and the United States saying, ‘We’re really sorry. That’s called collateral damage and we can’t help it in this situation if civilians get killed. So discussion and negotiation is the only path. War is not the answer.”
Marco Dorado is the President of External Affairs for CU Student Government. He stopped by the vigil and took an information flyer, “Well I think the attack on Syria is just, I feel like there’s so much information that the US public in general isn’t privy to. So I think that the way it’s being framed by the administration and by the government, like what we think of is just, ‘Syria’s the bad guy and we need to go bomb the bad guy’ but really what does that get done? And is this going to become another Iraq, right? So that’s kind of what comes to my mind. So I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it and really trying to get both sides of the argument but the way it’s looking, it’s just kind of like well we’re desperate for another war. It doesn’t make sense.”
Refufia Gaintan/The Nation Report