Tag Archives: President Obama

Day #13 – July 19, 2014 – The World Protests

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather to protest against the Israeli army's bombings in the Gaza strip, in Paris, Saturday, July 19, 2014. Police have clashed with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban in Paris on marching to protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather to protest against the Israeli army’s bombings in the Gaza strip, in Paris, Saturday, July 19, 2014. Police have clashed with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban in Paris on marching to protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

As Israel’s horrific assault on Gaza entered its 13th day on Saturday, July 19, 2014, the global community went to the streets to protest. Thousands marched in Paris, London, Santiago, Chile, (many throughout Latin America stood up to support Gaza), and Melbourne, Australia,

The protests in New Zealand targeted the U.S. Embassy. Thousands protested outside the Israeli Embassy in Johannesburg. People went into the streets in Berlin, Istanbul and Jakarta to denounce Israel’s actions in Gaza.

And what did President Obama say that day after a phone conversation with Netanyahu?

Israel has a right to defend itself.”

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People take part in a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, on July 19, 2014, to protest against Israel's military campaign in Gaza and show their support to the Palestinian people. In Paris, despite a rare police ban and warnings from President Francois Hollande, hundreds began massing for their march but clashed with police who blocked their route. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT

People take part in a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, on July 19, 2014, to protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and show their support to the Palestinian people. In Paris, despite a rare police ban and warnings from President Francois Hollande, hundreds began massing for their march but clashed with police who blocked their route. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT

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Three Letters

What more can I do to stop the genocidal massacre occurring in Gaza today? Write letters, and more letters. Israel can only get away with this macabre slaughter of innocent civilians if the world remains silent.

The worldwide protests are encouraging, but are they enough? Take a look at these photos.

Today I sent the following three letters.

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Dear President Obama,

On July 12, the UN Security Council called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Neither side wants to back down and so the U.S. must step in and stop this massacre.

Your earlier offer to mediate a ceasefire might have been well-intentioned but you should know by now that the U.S. is not viewed by Hamas or the Arab world as a neutral party in this conflict. You cannot support a “right of self-defense” for the military occupier, and condemn the people who have been suffering under a brutal military occupation for 60+ years  the right to resist and use self-defense.

The only way Israel will have peace and security is by ending its military occupation. You know that, and most of the community of nations understands that, but the current government of Israel does not.

Regardless of what Congress says about the situation, as commander in chief, I believe you have the authority to do the following:

  • Use your bully pulpit and condemn Israel’s attack on the besieged Gaza Strip — the civilians, the hospital and clinics, the schools, the charity centers, the water desalination plant, the Mosques, the homes and the innocent civilians (men, women, children and the elderly).
  • Send a US Naval ship to the eastern end of the Mediterranean with a warning to Israel that the U.S. is facilitating access to the Gaza Strip from the Sea to bring humanitarian supplies.
  • Notify Al-Sisi of Egypt that the U.S. will not restore diplomatic relations with his country until there is evidence that the Rafah border crossing is open and accessible in both directions.
  • Notify Netanyahu of Israel that you are blocking financial aid to Israel until the bombing in Gaza ends, and he issues a statement that there will be no further settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The U.S. has the power to dramatically improve the situation in the Middle East for millions of people if you step outside of the box that Israel and AIPAC have forced you and your predecessors in for many years. This is your final term in office. Be bold. Be courageous. Do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero


Secretary of State John Kerry

Dear Secretary Kerry,

Many people, including myself, believed your peace negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas were doomed to failure from the start, but I want to thank you for trying. My proposal for reaching an agreement might have been a bit out-of-the-box thinking, but we desperately need creative ideas.

Palestinians have been waiting for 60+ years for the State of Israel to end the military occupation and treat them with respect, dignity and equal rights. The failure of the latest “peace talks” confirmed their belief that Netanyahu and the current leaders in Israel do not want a viable State of Palestine created side-by-side with Israel. They don’t want to acknowledge the injustices that have been hurled on Palestinians for generations.

No one, least of all you, should be surprised that an oppressed population would defend their rights through acts of resistance. Peaceful, nonviolent actions have been the cornerstone of this resistance for many years, but have gone virtually unacknowledged by the West. It appears that Israeli leaders only understand terms of strength and violent resistance.

Surely, your advisers must have forewarned you about the consequences of a failure in the peace negotiations. Netanyahu doesn’t want to see the Palestinians unified. If he can’t win on the diplomatic front, he can prove his strength on the battlefield. Strength and violence are the only messages he values.

As a concerned American who deplores the fact that the U.S. is subsidizing this belligerent occupation to the tune of over $3 billion/year, I urge you to break the impasse by doing the following:

  • Call your counterpart in Israel and tell him that the U.S. government will not sit on the sidelines. Israel must understand not only our concern about the escalating violence but, more importantly, the actions we will take to intervene in this humanitarian crisis. Your words thus far have been unhelpful.
  • Call former President Carter and seek out his advice. No U.S. President has more knowledge and experience in the Middle East than does Jimmy Carter.
  • Shine a light on the atrocities occurring in Gaza by speaking publicly about the failure of the peace talks and condemning this slaughter of innocent civilians. “Never again” means never again will the free world turn its back as innocent civilians are indiscriminately murdered, as is occurring today in Gaza.

Please use your final months in office to show the world that the United States is a moral leader for what is right and just. Be bold. Be courageous. Do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero


Representative Lujan-Grisham

Representative Lujan-Grisham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Representative Lujan-Grisham,

Thank you for meeting with me and my friends from Gaza, Palestine in your office in March. We appreciated the opportunity to share with you information about the Israeli military occupation that few members of Congress understand.

When Netanyahu launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, he claimed he was protecting Israeli citizens from Hamas’s rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman stated in a tweet at the beginning of the operation that “IDF has commenced Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas, in order to stop the terror Israel’s citizens face on a daily basis.”

Israel cannot bomb its way to peace and security. The only way to end terror in Israel is for that country to end the military occupation that has terrorized 3+ generations of Palestinians for 66 years. With no end of the occupation in sight, it should come as no surprise that the oppressed would resist. Peaceful, nonviolent resistance has been the hallmark of their actions for years, but has largely gone unacknowledged in the West. With the failure of the peace talks, and continued extrajudicial assassinations of Palestinians by Israel, and a suffocating 7-year siege, we should really be asking how the U.S. can play a more constructive role in ending the occupation.

H.Res.657 is not a constructive message, in my opinion. Reaffirming that Israel has the right to defend itself is a ludicrous statement given the fact that Israel is the occupying power over land (the occupied west bank and Gaza) that doesn’t belong to it. The right of self defense belongs to those whose lives and land are being threatened by the occupier. If Israel agrees to end its belligerent occupation, then it will have the right of self-defense if attacked in the future. Here is a primer about the history of the occupation which I have found very helpful in understanding current events.

Please use this opportunity to raise questions about the military occupation with your colleagues in the House. If I can answer any questions, or put you in touch with people who can answer your questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero

 

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Pawns on the chessboard

The bodies of three Israeli teenagers were discovered Monday.  My heart weeps for them.

Talking about Palestine and current events in the Middle East with a friend recently, she asked me “how do you keep your spirits up and your attitude positive when there’s so much depressing news over there?”

We had just been reciting a litany of human rights abuses, settlement expansions in the West Bank, home demolitions in East Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s intransigence and much more.

Without skipping a heartbeat, I told her it was the children I met in Gaza who give me hope. I can see them —- all of them —- in my mind’s eye every time I write or talk about Gaza, and my spirits are lifted.

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Truth be told, I lay awake some nights worried about these children.

They’re very vulnerable, living under occupation, in a war zone, pawns in a geopolitical battle not of their own making! And the numbers don’t lie, they prove that too many Palestinian children are paying the ultimate price. (Child fatalities by month recorded here.)

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Now we’ve learned that three Israeli teenagers  paid the ultimate price too. Their bodies were found in the West Bank under a pile of rocks about 15 miles from where they disappeared 18 days ago. (New York Times piece.) Despite Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas is responsible for their abduction and killing, no evidence has been shared linking Hamas or anyone else to this horrific crime, and Hamas has denied responsibility.

“The story of the disappearance and killing of the three settlers is based on the Israeli narrative only,” Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. “The Israeli occupation is trying to refer to this narrative in order to justify its wide-scale war against our people, against the resistance and against Hamas.”

We don’t know the perpetrators but we do know the names of the three teenagers, where they were studying, that one teenager had ordered a new pair of glasses shortly before his disappearance and, sadly, what his mother was wearing when she was informed of his death. (See details here.)

Many in the West have been following the daily news reports of the disappearance of these teenagers, the IDF’s Operation Brother’s Keeper to search for them, and their tragic fate.

Do we know the names of the Palestinian children killed? The circumstances of their deaths? What their mothers and fathers were doing when they learned the news?

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By one account as many as one Palestinian child has been killed every 3 days for the past 13 years!  But the Western media and Western politicians fail to acknowledge this tragedy! Do we have a blind spot, or worse, a double standard when Palestinian children are killed at the hands of the Israeli military? Do we sanitize their deaths by labeling them collateral damage?

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Rarely do we know how the parents in Gaza feel when their children are murdered but in January 2009, Israeli citizens heard the anguished cries of a Palestinian doctor live on TV as he shared the traumatic killing of his young daughters and their cousin moments after Israel shelled his house in Gaza.

Journalist Harry Fear reminded anyone who would watch and listen of the names of all of the victims of Operation Pillar of Death in Gaza in November 2012.

These children (Palestinian and Israeli) should not be pawns on our chessboard in the Middle East but, sadly, that’s what it feels like. And it feels like we’ve chosen sides, thinking some pieces are more valuable than others. “As a father”, President Obama mourns the death of the 3 Israeli teenagers, but I’ve never heard him express any concern (much less sorrow) for the deaths of Palestinian children. Why? Can’t his paternal feelings identify with the Palestinian parents in Gaza?

There’s something very wrong with how we compartmentalized our grief and sympathy.  The human spirit needs to evolve. That would be the best way to honor those 3 Israeli teenagers and all children around the world murdered so callously on our chessboard.

chess cake

P.S. My daughter made this cake chessboard. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Obama’s State of the Union

Today I received an email from President Obama.

Hello everyone,

Before too long, I’ll be heading to the Capitol to report on the state of our union — and talk about the year ahead.

It’s one of the most important traditions of the American democracy, and it happens tonight.

Let me know you’ll be watching.

President Barack Obama

I’ll be watching, Mr. President, but I doubt you’ll be saying much about Palestine or climate change.  Those are the two issues I’m passionate about and I really wish I could count on you to be as committed.

Please, just tell Americans the bottom line. We need to move off of fossil fuels decisively and very quickly. No more diddle-daddyling around. We need to end the fossil fuel tax breaks and implement a carbon tax PRONTO! And you, Mr. President, need to shut down the Keystone XL Pipeline (all of it) from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

I understand billionaire green investor Tom Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action PAC will run an ad before your State of the Union address calling for the rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Come on Mr. President!   Just say no!

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And here’s what I want you to say about Israel and Palestine.

My fellow Americans, Members of Congress, and World Leaders (especially Netanyahu and Abbas),

The occupation must end. The siege on Gaza must end. The United States is going to chart a new course in the Middle East — beginning today.

Israel’s future and Palestine’s future are inextricably intertwined; neither can live without the other as much as their leaders might wish otherwise.

Let there be no mistake, the United States has supported the State of Israel since the day it was created to the present. We will continue to support Israel.

We have supported Israel financially. In addition to the $3.1 billion per year promised as part of a 10-year aid package, Congress included an additional $284 million in the budget in December for joint U.S.-Israel defense cooperation.

We have supported Israel in the United Nations. Many resolutions have been introduced in the U.N. Security Council critical of Israel’s occupation and siege of Gaza, but the United States has vetoed every single one. In November 2012, I instructed our representative to oppose Palestine’s bid for statehood at the United Nations, despite overwhelming support from the rest of the world. Why? Because I believed the “only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties.”

We have supported Israel during negotiations with the Palestinians. Even though no one believes the U.S. is an honest broker for peace, and the parties know which side we favor, I believe Secretary Kerry has made a valiant effort to resolve the differences. However, it’s clear that effort has failed.

Clearly, the situation is deteriorating rapidly. The United Nations reports that Gaza will be unlivable as soon as 6 years from now. Recent flooding in the Gaza Strip has displaced hundreds of families, the fuel shortages have thrown 1.7 million Palestinians back into the dark ages. Most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have never been able to travel outside; they are stuck as if in an open-air prison.University students finish their studies with no hope for any meaningful employment. Their economy has shattered and is wholly dependent on UNRWA and outside aid. 

Our policies in the Middle East are unsustainable. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that the U.S. is actually undermining a future peaceful resolution to the conflict. We are offering no hope to the young people in the region, leaving them no choice but to act in desperation.

Tonight, I’m announcing a new path forward. The details will be shared in the coming days.

  1. The U.S. will no longer embrace a policy of shunning democratically-elected leaders, such as Ismail Haniyeh. 
  2. The U.S. will not be the broker of a peace agreement between the parties, but instead we will defer to the United Nations to play that role.
  3. Within the powers granted to me, our country’s financial and military aid to Israel will be suspended until a final, mutually-agreed upon settlement has been reached.

Let me be clear. 

The United States is not going to allow any nation or people to endanger the security of Israel. We will remain vigilant against any aggression by anyone against Israel and we will take any action necessary to defend our friend. 

However, our friend’s future depends on ending the occupation of Palestinian lands, and coming to a just and equitable resolution with her Palestinian neighbors. I won’t predict what form that final agreement may take; that is for the parties to decide, not the United States. But I predict that the final agreement will be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of my Presidency or the future existence of the State of Israel will surely be in doubt. 

 

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A simple question about chemical weapons

President Obama’s speech last night focused on the scourge of chemical weapons.  He noted that “in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.”  Read the full transcript of his speech here.  However, he failed to mention something important.

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993, but never ratified it. Egypt and Syria have neither signed nor ratified the CWC.

The CWC aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons.  Read more about the details of the convention here.

U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama continued:

On August 21st, these basic rules were violated, along with our sense of common humanity.

He presented his case for a limited air strike in Syria, and then acknowledged the potential for a diplomatic solution.

I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control. We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies from Europe to the Americas — from Asia to the Middle East — who agree on the need for action.

Why isn’t President Obama seeking to bring Israel and Egypt into the CWC, along with Syria?  His silence is as loud as the sonic booms that Palestinians regularly hear over Gaza — if people were only listening!

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Middle East

I’m writing to President Obama today and asking that he consider revising the resolution that he is proposing to the UN Security Council.  He should be presenting a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad, Netanyahu, and Adly-Mansour to give up their chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control. 

Has the United States destroyed its arsenal of chemical weapons?

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Obama in his own words

I’m trying to get inside President Obama’s head to understand why he’s pressing so hard for an airstrike against Syria.

On September 4, a Swedish reporter asked Obama how he reconciles being a Nobel Peace Laureate (’09) with his current plans to attack Syria. Noticeably, he didn’t mention strategic ‘balance of power’ issues or a direct U.S. national security interest. Here’s his answer.

Obama is speaking emotionally — like a father — about the 400 dead children killed by gas, and he posits the issue as one for political leaders and all citizens to ask.

“At what point do we confront actions that are violating our common humanity?”

Framing the issue that way is profoundly shocking, at least to me, and it gives me hope.  I agree with Obama, that is exactly how we should be looking at Syria. We should be looking through that lens at every atrocity, not simply when chemical weapons are deployed against defenseless civilians.

Obama’s framing of the issue demands that we consider:

  • How do we define what constitutes “our common humanity”?
  • What actions are appropriate to respond to such violations?

The President is really challenging Americans to have that discussion, and I suspect he is wrestling with the answers himself.

In 2007, I visited city hall in Oslo, Norway where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year.  I think it’s the most magnificent city hall in the world.

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall

Two years later Obama donned the mantle of Nobel Peace Laureate in that very same room.

Today I watched his 37-minute Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to see what I might gleam about his thinking in the current situation in Syria. Of course, he never once mentioned Syria or chemical weapons, but much of his 2009 speech is poignantly prescient to the situation in Syria today.

Obama’s speech begins as a university history lecture talking about “just war theory” and he notes that  the old architecture of peace-keeping is buckling. He mentions the new types of war (sectarian civil wars as an example) and acknowledges that he does not have the answers about how to meet these new challenges in the 21st century, but he knows it will require us to “think in new ways”.

I’m going to watch it again.

Mr. President: You are grappling with finding a new way of thinking while holding onto the tools of the old way of thinking (a military response). Perhaps the two are incompatible.

You are one of the brightest Presidents America has had — at least in my lifetime — and if anyone can find a new way of thinking and responding to this crisis facing our common humanity, you can!

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Dear Mr. President

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Raadhuset Main Hall at Oslo City Hall, Dec. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Raadhuset Main Hall at Oslo City Hall, Dec. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thank you, Mr. President, for encouraging an open and vigorous debate, and for seeking Congressional authority to use military force in Syria.  Hopefully, you and our members of Congress are hearing from many Americans.

We are a divided nation, and it seems we are very divided about using military force in Syria.  Perhaps the pollsters aren’t asking Americans the right question.

I’ve read your draft resolution that you sent to Capitol Hill on Saturday. You are framing the issue as a limited military response in Syria to deter or prevent the use and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (including chemical or biological weapons).

Respectfully, I believe framing the issue that way is problematic for several reasons:

  • The United States did not object to Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against the Iranian military in 1988. In fact, some commentators suggest recently declassified materials show that the US assisted Hussein.  The US didn’t object to Israel’s use of white phosphorus against a defenseless civilian population in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which international law clearly prohibits. Furthermore, a US intelligence document says President Assad has used chemical weapons in the recent past, perhaps as many as 14 times. These inconsistent responses have damaged America’s credibility in the Middle East. America can’t pick and choose which atrocities it will condemn. Only a brave new foreign policy approach in the region has a chance of restoring the international community’s trust and respect in America as a leader for good.
  • There is considerable uncertainty about who actually used these chemical weapons in Damascus on August 21. Very likely it was President Assad, as you and Secretary of State John Kerry believe. Assad denies it, however, and others ask for the evidence to clearly prove the link to Assad. Now the Assad regime has asked the UN to protect it from ‘any aggression’ from the West, while President Vladimir Putin said Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a U.N. resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proven that Damascus used poison gas on its own people. There are many players in the region, each with their own agenda, and others could have plausibly hit these neighborhoods in Damascus in order to draw the US into this quagmire for their own reasons.
  • There is no end game, and there’s very good reason to believe that the Middle East is a powder keg just waiting to be ignited. Assad has promised to retaliate, and others in the region are already preparing their responses. It won’t end with an airstrike or two or many. The potential loss of life is incalculable.
  • As a former law professor yourself, you may appreciate the counsel provided by these three law professors who say that the U.N. Charter requires nations to work together through the United Nations to address atrocities such as we see today in Syria.  Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro are professors at Yale Law School and write here. Professor Jennifer Moore, University of New Mexico School of Law writes here.

President Barack Obama looks at the Nobel Prize medal and diploma during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Raadhuset Main Hall at Oslo City Hall, Dec. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama looks at the Nobel Prize medal and diploma during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Raadhuset Main Hall at Oslo City Hall, Dec. 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Mr. President, you have been handed an opportunity to do something extraordinary for Syria and for the world.

The members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee saw a obama-hopespark of  greatness in you when they bestowed the Nobel Prize medal on you in 2009. Many Americans saw hope.  I think the current events in Syria provide you with the opportunity to prove them all right.

Rather than framing the issue as a limited military response in Syria to the illegal use of chemical weapons, you should frame the issue as a global response to building long-term peace in the Middle East. You are perhaps the only person in the world today who can frame the issue this way, bring all of the parties together on the same page, and actually implement a plan for long-term peace.

Former President Jimmy Carter, your fellow Nobel Peace Laureate (2002), is calling for a Syria Peace Summit. Another Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (1976) recently visited Lebanon and Syria and says that the Syrians she met do not want the international community to intervene.  She speaks about her visit here.

Many people are perplexed about what to do about Syria. Respectfully, these are the steps I recommend you take.

  • Invite President Carter and Mairead Maguire to the White House to discuss with you and your advisers the next steps they would recommend. The invitation alone will signal to the world that you are considering other options and possibly reframing the issue. Remember that peace is not a sign of weakness; an airstrike is not a sign of strength.  In fact, it is exactly the opposite.  
  • The Syrians on the ground and in harms way must be sent large quantities of anti-toxins for the chemical weapons that have been used and believed to be existing, in order to be prepared for the worse case scenario. Pull together a medical force, rather than a military force, of professionals who will voluntarily travel to Syria to tend to the injured. The U.S. government should compensate this medical force just as it compensates the military force currently sitting in the Mediterranean.
  • There are now more than 2 million Syrian refugees fleeing from their homeland. Direct your Administration to prepare guidelines for accepting Syrians into the USA, and implement these guidelines before the end of the year.
  • Issue a statement that the use of chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and weapons prohibited under international law against civilians by any nation or non-state actor (including Iran and Israel) will be met by swift and powerful condemnation by the United States, and an immediate cessation of any economic, military and bilateral relations. (The resolution you presented to Congress last Saturday should be redrafted to seek this authorization.)
  • There must be a unified and consistent response by the global community to non-state actors and extremists, like Al-Qaeda, who indiscriminately brutalize civilians and “infidels”. Avoid the term “terrorists” which has been overused, misused and mocked.

Undoubtedly you’ll receive push back from every side. I suspect Netanyahu has already bent your ear for delaying an airstrike in Syria.

Please don’t fall into the trap that others will lay for you — that the U.S. must launch an airstrike in Syria to restore our country’s credibility in the region; to punish Assad for stepping across a red line; or to thwart the proliferation of this dangerous menace (chemical weapons).  YOU set the agenda — and make it one of long-term peace and stability in the region. Carter and Maguire are your best allies and counselors. Please send them an invitation to meet with you post haste.

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