In March of 2003, I appeared on Good Morning America to talk about the looming invasion of Iraq. As an anti-war activist, I was adamantly against our country engaging in a military battle with the Saddam Hussein regime, after he offered and allowed international weapons' inspectors into his country to investigate George Bush's claim that he was hiding "yellow cake." He said "yes" to the United Nations, but we didn't listen and bombed anyway. I continued to urge both sides for a peaceful resolution, and for that I was called un-American. Not just by those on the right, but even by many of my liberal friends who said I was being a "wuss." I was shocked. Shock and awe. Ten years later, most people in our country are now saying aww shucks, or more like aww sh... After the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, putting our brave men and women in uniform in harm's way for reasons that none of us can fathom and left to rebuild a country while ours' suffers from an economic collapse, we wonder what if we had taken a different approach. Imagine if we had believed in the international community's ability to diplomatically resolve that situation, rather than reign bombs over Baghdad... where would our country and the world be today?
President Obama faces an even more severe set of circumstances, because there is no dispute that chemical weapons were used in Syria. There is no need for a search. Yet, his approach has been quite different than the previous administration's. Not only has shown confidence in Secretary of State John Kerry's ability to serve as our chief negotiator, he also listened to his colleagues in Congress, from both sides of the aisle. As the press speculated about his relationship with Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, he kept the dialogue open with the Kremlin about solutions that did not involve military operations. As he struggled with the morality of doing nothing after witnessing the worst chemical weapon attack in the 21st century, President Obama has used his strength in diplomacy to attempt to resolve this conflict peacefully. For anyone to call him "weak" or a "wimp" because he is more confident in his words than the war machine, I would ask you to remember the mistake of Iraq. I applaud the president for his restraint and believing that we can solve the world's problems in a different way. He can engage with nations and politicians who might not always agree with him, but are willing to work together so no more innocent lives are lost. That is what I heard from the president on Tuesday night and that is what I have always admired about him. He is not afraid to chart a new course for this nation and for the world. Even when that course seems impossible to navigate.
However, we are certainly not at the finish line yet. Even if the Assad regime hands over their chemical weapons stockpile to the international community, there will still be a civil war raging in Syria that has killed over 100,000 people in just two years. Our commitment to humanity does not stop at the threat of another chemical weapons attack. We must be committed as a connected global family to bring peace to all people of Syria. To do this, we need extraordinarily strong leadership, and I have the absolute faith that President Obama is as strong as they come.