President Obama faced a tall order in addressing the nation about Syria on Tuesday: to convince war-weary Americans that taking military action against Syria for using chemical weapons is not only the right thing to do, but also in our country's interest.
Before Tuesday's speech, his administration's efforts to win over Americans hadn't been working. Polls have shown that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to getting the country involved in the Syrian civil war, and the opinion of our readers has been similarly weighted against Obama. As I've noted before, several of our letter writers have warned that we were lured into Iraq 10 years ago with bogus intelligence, saying that our country cannot make the same mistake again.
So, how did Obama do on Tuesday?
Not bad, judging by the letters we've received so far. Several readers have drawn comparisons to past atrocities; others say we should strike Bashar Assad's regime sooner rather than later.
Here is a selection of those letters.
Combat veteran Evan Aitkens of Mission Viejo says Obama has his support:
"Obama hit the nail on the head in his address to the nation. By giving the American people logical, articulate answers to questions raised about involvement in Syria, he won my vote to strike limited military targets if necessary.
"As a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I am the last person who wants to see another drawn-out war, yet the precedent must not be set that it is acceptable to use chemical weapons, ever, for any reason."
Marina del Rey resident Sid Pelston said action must be taken quickly:
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"The president has delayed requesting congressional approval for military action against Syria. Wrong move.
"Syria has chemical weapons, and there is limited doubt the regime has used them. The president should request congressional approval to strike Syria if, in the president's discretion, there is not credible action to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons. That is the best assurance against stall tactics.
"More than 100,000 Syrians have been killed, and the government has been bombing civilian areas with no concern for human life. We cannot continue to sit by as a spectator."
Brea resident Bob Wicks wonders what Obama is waiting for:
"You see a stranger in the park killing children. You have a rifle in your hands. What do you do?
"Now Obama has the rifle in his hands. He turns to you and says, 'I'm going to shoot him in the leg. What do you think?'
"Do you reply, 'We don't know any of these people, so it's none of our business,' or, 'What if that makes him shoot at us?,' or, 'Let's find a phone and dial 911 instead,' or, 'What are you waiting for?'"
San Gabriel resident Robert S. Henry makes a historical comparison:
"We should really be ashamed of ourselves.
"It took World War II and the liberation of Europe to discover what atrocities the Nazis had wrought. In righteous indignation, American soldiers then forced German civilians to walk through those concentration camps so they could see what they had chosen not to believe what was happening."
"Even worse, we American civilians have photographic proof of the Syrian gassing of children before we are called on to take action. How can we not act?"