Opinions were split at the forum on Syria hosted by U.S. Rep. John
Larson at West Hartford Town Hall Monday as to whether the United States
should intervene militarily in the Middle Eastern country's civil war.
week, reports indicated that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime
used chemical weapons against civilians, killing over 1,000 people,
including 400 children.
President Barack Obama on Aug. 31 called on Congress to pass a
resolution supporting an air strike against Syria’s ruling regime.
the legislature set to reconvene on Sept. 9, Congressman Larson
scheduled the two-hour Labor Day forum to hear what constituents had to
say on the matter.
Packed in the Town Council Chamber because a
concert was scheduled in the Town Hall Auditorium, dozens of people -
from West Hartford, Canton, Avon, Farmington, Manchester, South Windsor
and Windsor, among other municipalities - spoke, the apparent majority
of whom were against any intervention.
“It’s a Syrian problem, created in Syria and I feel Syria should solve it themselves,” said Canton resident Nancy Rose.
For more than one person, an air strike would lead to a larger-scale war.
is an immoral atrocity,” said Suzanne Hall of Avon. “But war is an
immoral atrocity. What about the Sudan? Darfur? What about Saddam
Hussein in the 1990s using chemical weapons against the Kurds? It will
Several people called for other measures, such as
sanctions and tough negotiations, to stop Assad from using chemical
Debby Reelitz of Granby called on Larson for a
four-point plan: 1. strong action in Syria, including a ceasefire and
negotiations; 2. support for the refugees who have been pouring into
Jordan; 3. aid and support for the Syrian civilians; 4. a strengthening
of the global criminal court.
Another resident was more blunt.
“If killing 400 children with chemical weapons is reason for a war, then can we attack Union Carbide?” he asked.
Some called for the focus to be on helping people in the United States.
others said that doing nothing would result in more chemical weapons
attacks, as well as weaken the United State’s positions in other
difficult situations in the world, including Iran and North Korea.
[the U.S.] does not do anything, then what is the answer to it?” asked
one Syrian American. “There are no red lines that he won’t cross.”
one advocated “boots on the ground” - a military response that called
for a troop commitment in Syria. It’s an option that Larson has gone on
record as opposing.
Debate in Congress will take place next week.
Larson did not commit to a position, but he did appear to favor a strike
if the rest of the world supported the measure.
The issue is several countries - notably Russia and China, to date, - have declined to embrace such a response.
Obama's decision to have Congress debate the measure has drawn
criticism from some sectors, Larson said that the president is acting
from a position of strength.
"I applaud him for that," Larson said.
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