THE BLOG
09/11/2013 08:22 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

Ultimate Reason to Support Resolution Authorizing Use of Military Force to Stop Chemical Weapons in Syria: It's Working

The ultimate reason to support the Congressional resolution to authorize the use of military force to stop chemical weapons use in Syria is clear: it's working.

Over a year ago, the U.S. proposed that Syria turn over its chemical weapons for destruction by the international community and join the chemical weapons treaty that bans their possession or use. Syria refused, and Russia refused to demand that it do so.

Today they have both said yes. There is only one reason. They hope to stop the use of military force that President Obama has proposed to degrade their ability to deliver these weapons -- and make the regime pay a price for the indiscriminate slaughter of 1,400 adults and children using chemical weapons containing poison sarin gas.

Many of my fellow Progressives -- who like me were strong opponents of the Iraq War -- support President Obama's request for Congressional authorization to use force to sanction chemical weapons use in Syria and deter its future use. They include Congressman Keith Ellison, the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; former anti-war presidential candidate Howard Dean, progressive columnists E.J. Dionne and Gene Robinson; and of course former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But for those who do not want to see the use of military force in Syria, the best thing they can do to assure that the military action is not needed is to support the Congressional resolution authorizing the president to use military force if necessary. That is the absolute best way to make certain the Syrian regime actually gives up its chemical weapons once and for all -- and that there is no need for the U.S. to take military action to force Assad to comply.

As the President argued last night, we need to make certain that the Russians and Syrians are absolutely convinced that if they do not make good on their new promise to turn over Syrian chemical weapons, military action will ensue -- it's that simple.

Three additional arguments have been used over the last few days that need to be addressed:

1). Some have argued that it is never justified to use force to counter malicious use of violence.

There are some Progressives who are truly pacifists -- who feel that the use of force and violence is never justified.

I respect the convictions of those who hold pacifist views, but I do not agree with them.

When Governor Orville Faubus of Arkansas refused to allow the integration of the schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1954, it would have been easier for the rest of America to simply shake our collective fingers and decry racism. It would have also been more popular. Instead the federal government sent troops from the National Guard to enforce the desegregation order with the threat of force.

Sometimes the threat -- or actual use -- of force is necessary -- especially to prevent violence.

That's why we empower police departments with the ability to use the force of arms when necessary to prevent violent acts.

2). Some politicians worry that supporting the President's proposal is simply too unpopular. They should remember that polls showed the public opposed the possible bombing campaign in 1999 that was aimed at protecting Kosovars from ethnic cleansing as well. A Gallup poll in February 1999 showed that 45 percent of the public opposed the proposed bombing compared with only 43 percent who supported it.

After the campaign was successful at achieving its goals, that opposition turned into public support, and the issue played very little role in the November 2000 Congressional elections.

3). Some opponents say simply, the use of poison gas in Syria is just not our problem. Let someone else worry about it, they say.

In fact, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. If the use of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction can occur with impunity any where on our small planet, they will be used more and more frequently in military conflicts. And if they are, they pose a massive danger for human beings everywhere.

If Assad can get away with using these weapons with impunity, that will ultimately endanger us all.

But assume for a moment it were possible to isolate their use, so that it would never impact those of us thousands of miles away from the streets of suburban Damascus. Can we just ignore the suffering of those who are its victims?

There was another story about another middle eastern road - the road to Jericho - where the hero of the tale did not ignore an injured foreigner who lay suffering by the roadside. That of course was the story of the Good Samaritan - the quintessential story that is at the center of the Christian New Testament. It was the story Jesus used to explain what it meant to "love your neighbor as yourself."

Can we sit by and ignore the cries of people in foreign lands who are slaughtered in Rwanda, or ethnically cleansed in Kosovo, or gassed by the Nazis? I don't think so. And sometimes getting involved is not always clean and sterile. Sometimes it is messy and inconvenient and difficult.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

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