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Give diplomacy a chance

Amsterdam News Editorial | 9/12/2013, 4 p.m.

Diplomacy is always a better option than war.

It was unsettling to hear President Barack Obama Tuesday evening recounting the horrific use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. To know that more than 1,400 people, including some 400 innocent children, were senselessly slaughtered was chilling. Though the tragedy was by no means new to us, the president recalled it with such graphic urgency that it was hard not to want some sort of retaliation, some retribution for this heinous violation of international norms.

But does this violation give the Obama administration the right to strike back, and thereby violate another longstanding international law? We think not, and while we are morally outraged by Assad’s dastardly act, it’s time to take a step back from that “red line” and give diplomacy a chance.

One additional bomb, one more missile to a situation already where already over 100,000 lives have been lost is not the answer to the Syrian civil war. The rebels may be dismayed and disappointed that the U.S. hasn’t hurried to their rescue, but it’s time we erred on the side of caution, particularly because there is little distinction among the rebels, and we could paradoxically end up with al-Qaeda as an ally.

Both Russia and Syria have put forth the possibility of resolving the crisis without the U.S. getting involved militarily, and though we have every reason to doubt any peaceful outcome in this regard, there is nothing to lose. It’s perhaps naive to believe that we can sit down with Russia and not have vestiges of the Cold War dancing in our heads.

Edwin Starr once sang that war is not the answer, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono once implored us to give peace a chance. Now, it won’t hurt at all to give diplomacy a chance.

Obama said some good things in his address the other night, and his concern about the U.S. being the global cop still resonates for many of his supporters.

We recently participated in a poll by NewsMax.com that asked us if we believed the U.S. should strike Syria militarily for using chemical weapons. We answered no, and in doing so, we joined 214,193 others who voted the same way against some 29, 252 who voted yes. If Congress appears to be split, the American public—if this poll has any validity—is firmly opposed to engaging the Syrian government in war.

We take a stand with our representative, Charles Rangel. A highly decorated war veteran, Rangel knows first-hand about the meaninglessness of war, particularly when it’s not in our national interest. Rangel is right to oppose a strike against Syria, and he has our vote.