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Voices / Letters from readers

U.S. has no role to enforce moral authority

An open letter to U.S. Rep. Peter Welch:

Today, we are approaching another vote that will give another president the green light to get us involved militarily in another country in the Middle East.

More than anything, I would like to have an opportunity to have a short conversation with you about this issue. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years or so, every time I have contacted you (usually with some sort of criticism, to be fair), I have only received either a generalized letter or one that has not really addressed my queries or concerns.

You and I both know that donors to members of Congress are rewarded with “access,” whether it be at a confab in Vermont or in Washington D.C.

I am not a donor to your political campaigns or those of others, but I am an informed Vermonter who takes his duties as a citizen seriously.

I find it a sad commentary on our political process, as well as an affront to every non-connected Vermonter, that while I might have a voice, I have no opportunity to actually engage the representative who works for me. I appreciate the times that you have been in the area, but I work three jobs, and have not yet been able to attend a public gathering.

With respect to attacking Syria, I beg you not to automatically assume that America has a role to enforce moral authority in the world.

Firstly, we must acknowledge that through our use of napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, our assistance to Saddam Hussein in his acquisition of chemical weapons, which he then used against the Kurds, and our use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium weaponry in Iraq, we are not innocent of this practice, and we pick and choose when to be outraged to the point of action.

President Obama arguably made a blunder with his now-famous “red line” statement about Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but the entire Middle East must not pay the price of maintaining his “credibility.”

The only audience for this sort of political maneuvering are U.S. politicians and this country’s media. The rest of the world sees this particular picture without the fogginess created by the administration’s rhetoric about human rights, moral authority, or world norms.

The last time I checked, it was not an international norm to conduct drone strikes without U.N. authority on other country’s soil, but these inconsistencies don’t seem to be giving our president pause.

Vermonters do not support another military adventure that lies outside of the defense of our country. Please do not allow pressure from this administration to stop you from speaking and voting against this reckless plan to escalate the war in Syria.

Dan DeWalt
South Newfane

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Originally published in The Commons issue #220 (Wednesday, September 11, 2013).

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