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Friday, September 06, 2013

Alternative approaches to Syria begin cropping up

Construction sign - 'Seek alternative route'
Washington Post: A draft resolution being circulated by two moderate Democratic senators would give the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the threat of “all elements” of U.S. military power.

Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) are working on the alternative proposal, which would delay the immediate use of military force and compel the Obama administration to build more international and American political support for striking the Assad government, according to Senate aides familiar with the talks.

The resolution would give the Assad government 45 days to sign the chemical weapons ban and require President Obama to present lawmakers with a plan to end the violence in Syria through diplomatic means, according to a draft copy of the resolution obtained by The Post from Senate aides.
Oddly enough, to the left of this solution is Republican Rep. Chris Smith’s plan, which would forgo military action entirely and instead would “call for an immediate ceasefire in Syria and direct the president to work with the United Nations to set up a tribunal to investigate war crimes committed by both the Syrian government and rebel groups in the country.” It’s not the greatest idea — if you find Assad guilty of war crimes, then what? — but give the guy credit for trying.

What’s bothered me about this all along is that, as far as the media was concerned, there has been no middle ground here. The voices speaking have been intensely polarized between “We gotta blow shit up right now” and “Yeah Sarin gas is terrible — but really, is it any of our business?” There’s plenty of room between those opinions for alternate solutions. Seriously, there has to be a more rational and serious approach than either “kill ‘em all!” or “who gives a fuck?”

And the way things are going right now, the White House would probably be smart to start demanding solutions from the naysayers; “‘No’ isn’t good enough. What’s your idea?”

They might just be able to draw people out to craft a serious bipartisan solution to a problem that would be immoral to completely ignore. As it is, “who gives a fuck?” is winning and, while that’s an alternative to war, it’s not an alternative to justice. Our choices aren’t just between going in guns ablazin’ or shrugging our shoulders and turning our backs. We should be working on finding the best alternative to the two.

[photo by Corey Templeton]

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