One of the common misnomers in the media, regarding Syria, is that it is dual pressure from the far right and far left, that has pushed Congress to seemingly reject any Use of Force resolution before it even came to a vote. When polling shows that 60 percent of people are opposed to the Congressional resolution, it's tough to say that's just made up of peaceniks and Tea Partiers.
But, add one more non-fringe group to that list -- those who are and have served in America's military. According to a survey of Active Duty troops from the Military Times, 80 percent of them oppose authorizing military action in Syria. That closely mirrors our own survey at VoteVets.org, where 75 percent of veterans and military family members also oppose action (overall, nearly 80 percent of our full list of supporters, both veteran and non-veteran, oppose action).
The results aren't that surprising. First, America's troops are war-weary. After a long campaign in Iraq, and a war in Afghanistan that's been going on for about 12 years, many of our troops have seen deployment after deployment after deployment. And, though President Obama maintains that any action in Syria will not see boots on the ground, he has yet to explain what we'll do if we strike with missiles, and Assad continues to use chemical weapons. Troops are wise to that. They know they could be deployed, falsely labeled "non combat" troops, as authorized in the draft Senate Use of Force resolution, and sent into Syria's civil war.
Secondly, at a time when the sequester is affecting our troops, by cutting services, they can't understand how we can't give them what they're owed, but will fire millions of dollars worth of missiles, for what will likely end up a non-decisive outcome. Already, the sequester threatened the furlough of teachers at school that serve children of active military members (though, thankfully, Defense Secretary Hagel ended that), has closed commissaries, and affected everything from medical care to loans, as civilian workers were forced to cease work. You can't see that, and then be told we're going to spend mountains of cash to launch an attack in Syria, and not be a bit peeved.
Finally, military members, above all, know that use of force -- short of an imminent danger -- is a last resort. And we're not at that point yet, as demonstrated by the fact that President Obama is now working to end this crisis through diplomatic means. All options have yet to be exhausted, meaning most troops won't see a use of force as warranted, yet.
That's why what President Obama is doing now is so encouraging. His pursuit of a non-military option isn't just the popular thing to do, it's the right thing to do, especially as far as our troops and veterans are concerned.
In the end, however, what is also true is that all across the political spectrum, from right to middle to left, people let their voices be heard against taking military action in Syria, and now we know that active duty troops, veterans, and their families were among them.
In an era where so often Americans are divided and split into ideological groups, it probably is tempting to say that one group or another achieved the goal of stopping strikes on Syria. But the truth of the matter is that this is one case where most Americans united behind a single cause.
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