Engraved on a stone plaque in the small cemetery holding the Devonshire Regiment’s casualties…are the words survivors carved on a wooden sign when they first buried their dead:
The Devonshires held this trench
The Devonshires hold it still
In the cemetery’s visitors’ book, on a few pages the ink of the names and remarks has been smeared by raindrops — or was it tears? “Paid our respects to 3 of our townsfolk.” “Sleep on, boys.” “Lest we forget.” “Thanks, lads.” “Gt. Uncle thanks, rest in peace.”
Only one visitor strikes a different note: “Never again.”
First and most importantly, an attack on Syria does not make the American people safer. Secondly, the possible death of innocent Syrian civilians as collateral damage from missile strikes may increase local and regional anti-Western sentiment and risks increasing the ranks of terrorists. Thirdly, the lack of a United Nations (UN) mandate or a strong global coalition in support of military action undermines our legitimacy to act.
Finally, we should be cautious in evaluating who we are assisting. While there are responsible elements among the Syrian opposition that want peace and democracy for Syria, extremists — some affiliated with Al-Qaeda — are growing stronger each day, and an American attack may inadvertently strengthen extremists while undermining support for more moderate forces.
One of the factors that led me to run for Congress was my opposition to the unnecessary war in Iraq, which was predicated by faulty intelligence and cost almost 7,000 American lives and, countless Iraqi lives. During my tenure in Congress, I have consistently voted against continued funding for the Iraq war and am proud to have been a part of ending the conflict. I am now in a position to stop another unnecessary war before it begins.
The President has chosen to ask for the advice and counsel of Congress, and with my voice and my vote, I respond: do not attack Syria.
The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.
The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.
“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”
The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.
This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.
As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.
President Obama intends to provide these same rebels with “small arms, ammunition and perhaps anti-tank weapons" in order "to keep the Syrian opposition going…”
In another time, country, or scenario, these rebels might be the targets of U.S. opposition or perhaps even U.S. drones. Our false hope that all who rebel against dictators must in some sense embody the spirit of ‘76 has repeatedly led us to support criminal organizations. This game we play of propping up a Middle Eastern dictator one day only to demand his ouster the next (Mubarak, Gaddafi, Hussein, etc.) clearly hasn’t altered the systemic problems that have long existed in those countries. If our cause is truly humanitarian, we should heed the International Crisis Group’s counsel, and avoid the further horror that would surely result from flooding Syria with our own bombs and weapons.
OK, our Secretary of State may have once issued wildly inaccurate predictions about Assad, but he’s totally got a handle on the situation this time, you guys. Because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s knowing precisely what will happen in the Middle East.