Dear Rep. Welch:
Thank you for your hard work on the Syria/chemical weapons issue, especially for asking the president to have Congress debate the issue. I listened to your comments and answers to questions on the VPR program ďVermont Edition,Ē and you were very well spoken. Some new questions and concerns arose for me in listening to the questions and your responses that I feel need to be carefully and thoroughly explored.
1. First, it seems that the diplomatic route has not been exhausted, as it should be before going to war. Iíve heard no mention of getting the 189 nations that have signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention to come together in unity as a counterforce to President Bashar Assad. It seems to me, with the right diplomatic approach, even Russia and China could be our allies in this initiative.
2. I am glad you will be able to review the classified data that the president is offering to Congress. How will this strike be done without triggering more extensive use of chemical weapons by Assad? How will the strikes be done without inadvertently or accidentally releasing the chemical weapons in explosions of the missiles?
3. The classified information should be very clear on the estimated casualties and deaths that might occur from the planned missile strikes and limited action.
4. The classified information should be very clear how the missile strikes would eliminate the chemical weapons. If it is not clear this will be done, the United States will have solved nothing to eliminate what is the primary issue in the presidentís planned action. From news reports I have heard, the al-Qaida forces in the Syrian opposition are gaining strength. How will missile strikes prevent al-Qaida forces from gaining access to chemical weapons? How will the chemical weapons be secured without U.S. or other forces on the ground in Syria? Unless there is a clear plan in the presidentís proposal that Congress can have confidence in to secure the chemical weapons, Congress should not approve it.
5. The classified information should also be very clear how the information was obtained that chemical weapons were fired from Assadís forces. And this information should be corroborated by independent sources.
6. I am very clear that I have limited knowledge of what diplomatic efforts have been made to date on the Syrian crisis. I urge you and all of Congress to insist on being given a full accounting of all the diplomatic efforts that have been made to date and why such efforts have failed. Also, Congress should press the president as to what additional diplomatic efforts could be pursued instead of war. I have heard that Russia and China are blocking attempts at the U.N. to craft and to allow a debate on a resolution on the Syrian crisis. However, it seems to me that there must be some way to have a debate in the U.N., just as there will be a debate in the U.S. Congress in the coming weeks. In this way, instead of the United States acting alone, 189 nations of the world could come together and maybe find a solution to the chemical weapons usage in Syria without going to war.
7. Lastly, it seems we are dealing with a situation where anything may happen, including the deterioration of relations between the United States and Russia and China, which now support Assad. That is why I feel that we need all 189 nations that have signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention involved in a diplomatic effort to solve this problem.
Thanks again for all your efforts on this critical issue.
Richard Czaplinski lives in Adamant.MORE IN Commentary
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