Western Opinion Sampler: What to do about Syria?
Published: September 5, 2013 12:59PM
Updated: September 5, 2013 01:32PM
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Time was, long ago, that when an editorial writer, especially an editorial writer for a newspaper other than The New York Times, wrote about foreign policy, it was derided as an exercise in “Afghanistanism,” That meant writing an editorial on a topic that nobody in your readership really cared about, which meant they were unlikely to disagree, be offended or notice if you got something wrong.

Now, Afghanistan is still terribly far away, and we still don’t really know what to do about it. But it is thought to be important. And, this week, so is Syria.

So here is what some editorial writers and columnists -- who don’t write for The New York Times -- think we ought to do about it.

— A vote of conscience: Leave politics aside in Syria question — Salt Lake Tribune EditorialBoth House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are calling it a free vote. A vote of conscience. Neither of the leaders of the U.S. House is going to demand that the members of their respective parties line up with them to vote in favor of President Obama’s request to authorize military action against the criminal regime that rules Syria. ...... To the extent that it is humanly possible, all of Utah’s men in Congress should set aside partisanship, ignore their dislike of all things Obama and stop worrying about how a yes or a no will play in the polls, now or next election year.This is, indeed, a vote of conscience. The politics can wait.

— We owe our fallen soldiers deliberation on Syria — Dan Liljenquist | For the Deseret News... While many have criticized President Obama for making this appeal, arguing that it made him and all Americans look weak, I applaud him for doing so. The momentous issue of war should never be a unilateral, hasty decision made by the chief executive. ...

— President, Congress need to act now on Syria — Robert Ehlert | The Idaho Statesman... Perhaps the president wishes he had acted on Syria and then begged forgiveness rather than participate in this politicized and protracted public relations campaign to lobby for permission. But as many have pointed out, we do have branches of government beyond the executive that deserve to be consulted. ...

— Best action plan — questions and care — Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial... A democratic check on presidential power, while a political loss, is a victory for this nation’s traditions. Obama was right to go to Congress, whatever that dysfunctional body decides. The world might shake its head in wonder, but this excruciating process is exactly what the country needs, and what its people deserve.

— Approve Syrian attack only with clear, sound objective — Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial... If Obama wants to continue the realpolitik foreign policies of multiple predecessors, we remind him of the graceful guidelines for peace-through-strength expressed most vividly by fellow progressive Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” ...

— Syria rationale needs to be clear — San Jose Mercury News Editorial... Seeking approval is consistent with promises Obama made as a presidential candidate, and it recognizes the scars of the Iraq War on our national psyche. But as he makes his case to lawmakers behind closed doors, he also should be explaining his rational and the expected outcome of an attack more fully to the public. ...

— Congress, say ‘no’ on Syria — Seattle Times EditorialPresident Obama put Congress in an uncomfortable, unfamiliar position. He is asking lawmakers to make a decision and be held accountable for their action. ...

— U.S. should launch a cyberattack on Syria — John Yoder | For The Seattle Times... America must not ignore the overwhelming evidence that chemical weapons have been used and that such use is a serious violation of international law. However, a military response to that violation is morally, politically and strategically unwise. ...

— U.S. needs to steer clear of Syria — Arizona Republic Editorial... Lost in the mantra about the dangers of appeasement is the hard fact that the United States has nothing to gain from letting Assad’s vile actions pull us into Syria’s civil war. ...