“We are damned if we do and, damned if we don’t” – Congresswoman Gwen Moore
By Frederick Dakarai and Courier Staff
While in town for the weekend after recovering from knee replacement surgery, Congresswoman Gwen Moore took time to speak to The Courier about her thoughts of the crisis in Syria.
On August 21 there was an attack against the rebel forces fighting the government of Syria in which reports state that there were 281 to as high as 1,429 rebels killed by the chemical weapon, sarin.
On September 9, 2013 Congresswoman Moore and the House of Representatives were scheduled to hear opinion, debate and vote on a resolution to use military force against the government of Syria headed by Bashar al-Assad.
The congresswoman pointed out that the resolution of US military action by President Obama was significantly modified by the Senate. “The resolution has evolved into changing the momentum of the battlefield to create favorable conditions for a settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government.”
“We don’t even know what we are voting for at this point. It (modified resolution) sounds like regime change. There seems to be no limitations.” A subsequent email to The Courier clarified that ground troops are still barred in the Senate resolution.
Courier: There are many different accounts from various media outlets of what is happening in Syria. Please, give the readership your account of what is happening in Syria now.
Congresswoman: Quagmire… There is a civil war going on now with many different factions fighting. There is a Syrian free group that was identified by Senator John McCain (R-Az) as good people. What do you do? It’s like trading the devil for a witch. This situation (with the vote) is comparable to Iraq. Someone, very credible like Colin Powell presents the evidence and makes the case for military action and…
Courier: And “dupes”
Congresswoman: And dupes the people. Nobody wants the same situation… (she continues) The briefing, the classified briefings I’ve been a part of strongly shows that chemical weapons were used. You not only can compare it to Iraq but also to Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing in Europe. It’s a horrible choice to make (military action); It’s bad! That’s the sad part.
Courier: So You believe, chemical weapons were used and administered by Assad.
Congresswoman: (pause) I can’t say that he didn’t used and administer it. And if it was not Assad and some other unaccountable group, that gives me even more concern. Chemical weapons isn’t like a bomb. It can be in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia tomorrow.
Courier: What about the people who believe that US involvement this is about a 600 mile pipeline or merely a diversion to the real goal of disrupting the country of Iran—
Congresswoman: (in a to much lighter, even comical voice) All the conspiracy theories would make for a good book (in a dismissive tone). But what do you do in the mean while? Until whatever theories are actually discovered, the massive displacements and killings will continue.
I have no Idea how I am going to vote; I’ve got to study to the point of doing the right thing.
Courier: If after your studies and if you came to a decision that differs from your party’s President and African American President, would you and could you vote against his will?
Congresswoman: I consider President Obama a friend; I’ve campaigned for him two times; But a friend is one thing and doing what’ right is another thing. Yes, I would vote against him (his resolution) if it is the right thing to do!
I was not a part of the Iraq vote. This is going to be the most important vote to-date as a congressperson. I want the people to know that I am working hard and taking this (vote) extremely important.
Following the interview with The Courier, President Obama asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.
In his address to the American public on Tuesday, Sept. 10 he stated: “I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control. We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st. And we will continue to rally support from allies from Europe to the Americas — from Asia to the Middle East — who agree on the need for action.”
He also added, “Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight, I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.”
He also stressed,”America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”
Following President Obama’s address Congresswoman Mooore responded by saying, “I am pleased that the President has asked Congress to postpone the vote authorizing United States military action in Syria.
The decision to engage our military in any capacity is something that should not be taken lightly. As Members of Congress, we must work to ensure that every diplomatic action has been taken before deciding to enact a military mission in Syria.
Tonight, President Obama spoke to the American people and emphasized the importance of sending a firm message to those who violate human rights and threaten to further disturb international peace.
I, like the President, stand strong in my belief that the atrocious actions President Assad has committed against his own people cannot be tolerated.
We, however, must determine the best course of action to help contain and restrict the use of chemical weapons – while at the same time avoiding actions that could inadvertently exacerbate the problem.
I am pleased that President Obama has chosen to give the Syrian regime an opportunity to relinquish its chemical weaponry.
It is my hope that we are able to positively impact the Syrian crisis through diplomatic channels. I await the Syrian response with expectancy and caution.”