90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, August 30, 2013

Questions From U.S. Military Officers About Syria Action

A U.S. Air Force plane takes off from the Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Inspection team in Syria is expected to complete its work Friday and report to him Saturday. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

A U.S. Air Force plane takes off from the Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Inspection team in Syria is expected to complete its work Friday and report to him Saturday. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Note: This interview occurred in the 12 o’clock hour, before the speech by Secretary of State John Kerry.

President Barack Obama says military action against Syria would be “a shot across the bow” to stop Syria and others from using chemical weapons again.

But many current and former U.S. military officers are skeptical about any operation.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Crank

    No, nononononononononononononoNO!

  • PeterBoyle

    It’s the NEOCONS and CONTRACTORS pushing for this…because the ultimate goal is attacking Iran. The generals learned from Iraq (much too late IMHO, they should have learned from Viet Nam) that this type ‘engagement’ does not work, and has serious blowback. After blowing a trillion tax dollars on Iraq, didn’t we learn anything? After losing over 4,000 military people didn’t we learn anything. If Syria gets serious Israel will solve the problem, let them do it. We need to step back and rethink our position in the world.

    • fun bobby

      the MIC learned that that was an easy way to earn a trillion dollars?

  • Stampgurl42

    Got that one right Mr. Boyle……… You can bet those idiots in favor of this aren’t sending their kids!!!!!! NO MORE messing in the Middle East. We failed three times and most importantly WE CANNOT afford $$$$$$ such folly. NO MONEY LEFT. We are war weary and flat broke. Bunch of IDIOTS!!!!!!!!

    NO NO WE WON’T GO NO NO WE WON”T GO!!!!!!!!!

  • PeterBoyle

    Robin, always remember that there was NO debate after Bush lied to get us into Iraq. DO NOT expect Congress to seriously debate now, they will only debate support or no support of Obama, not the efficacy of intervention. Common sense tell us that Assad had no reason to use these weapons (and a lot of reasons NOT to use them). The player with a reason to use them is al Queda.

    • H&N Guest

      Why did Assad have chemical weapons at all if “common sense” tells us he had no reason to use the weapons? It was always an option. Given the choice between maintaining his regime and killing people, Assad chose killing people.

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        It occurs to me that someone sold those verboten chemical substances to Syria. In US law, if you are caught abusing banned substances, you might go to jail, but the peddlers are considered the bigger criminals. Who peddled those banned substances to Assad?

      • PeterBoyle

        He was NOT losing, in fact he was making gains. Assad knew that their use would effectively end his regime. There was no precentage in him using them at this point. It was in the interests of the al Quida faction to use them to get the US to bomb Assad. They are even more ruthless than Assad so they would use them.

  • Voice of Reason

    The French have already said they are ready to act in Syria. The President and Sec. Kerry should push them to act prior to any vote by the Congress or Senate. The president could then say there is no point in the US attacking and/or getting involved.

    • RAOUL

      No your a dead wrong. The Arab League Nations should take the initiative in Syria…..they have the American made weapons we have sold them. It’s time for the Arab League to act by not using American made weapons to protect phony democratic dictators and kings.

    • fun bobby

      it would be so funny if the French went it alone. after a few weeks we would find Paris occupied by assad having surrendered


    What is missing from this debate is……”DEBATE”. A bloodless non violent alternative solution to bombing Syria is: Boycott the Olympics in Russia now. If all the European countries would sign on to the bloodless remedy in the Mideast, Russia would cooperate and not sale arms to Bashir al-Assad in order to kill his own people in order to keep his dictatorship in tact in Syria. “DO IT – BOYCOTT THE OLYMPICS” – besides, who in hell can afford to travel 6000 miles to Russia to attend an Olympic party for the wealthy. We have enough problems maintaing democracy in America not in Syria. Proof: Look at North Carolina. Look at Texas….. and look at the John Robert’s decision of the voting rights act. Mr. President stay out of Syria and refrain from carrying on the Bush tradition of wars in the Mideast for the sake of making huge amounts of money for the middle men and their investors in America.

  • scotty

    The question was raised inthe British Parliament but not answered completely. If this is such a travesty in Syria, why dothe countries of the Arab League sit idly by? I don’t buy that they don’t have the military technology. If they don’t care about their brethren, why should we? Until they care enough to take action, we should wait.

  • H&N Guest

    This is the solution a Nobel Peace Prize winner comes up with to solve the problem of Syria?

    • fun bobby

      he has the peace prize he is now working on his war prize

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    If, as Secretary of State, John Kerry, says — that we have incontrovertible evidence of Assad’s use of chemical weapons, in violation of international law — then let the civilized nations of the world indict Mr. Assad in the International Court and try him for crimes against humanity.

    Let the civilized nations of the world demonstrate their belief in and reliance on the Rule of Law to systematically deal with violations of international law.

  • Maggie

    Our lack of willingness to lead from the front and our lack of compassion for other human beings is astonishing! Lets just sit by and allow injustice and cowardice reign as long as our bellies are full and we can still be entertained on our 60″ TVs. Life is good for us, is all that matters! By the way, I’m a veteran of Operation Desert Storm so I know the price that has to be paid. Dying for justice and liberty is not the worst thing in the world.

  • R. Newman

    Is this a “war crime”, and if so, why hasn’t the threat of the Hague Court weighed in this discussion?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      More to the point, why doesn’t the US take the evidence — and the case — to the International Court and seek an indictment and trial of those responsible for procuring and deploying chemical weapons in Syria, in violation of international law.

      • tribrn

        Because then the US would have to acknowledge the ICC, which the Federal Government doesn’t want to do, because then higher-ups would be able to be held accountable for war crimes.

        The US was one of 7 nations to vote against the Rome Statute, in the company of such bastions of human rights China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, and Yemen. Yay team!

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          Do you mean to tell me (and this committee) that the US is being disingenuous when it gets all exercised over war crimes when it comes to demonizing the other guy, while glorifying our own war heroes who patriotically bomb the bejesus out of Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq?

          • PeterBoyle

            There are arrest warrants out for Bush from the ICC (or were last year). Same with Cheny and Rumsfeld. A Spanish prosecutor charged them with War Crimes (Torture) and Bush had to cancel a speaking engagement in Europe because of them. Same with Cheny when he was to give a talk in Germany. Neither could travel much. I don’t know the status now but that was last year.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Sometimes international war criminals are tried in absentia.

            And sometimes they are tried in the history books.

            The question in my mind is whether we (as a presumably civilized nation) genuinely believe in the concept of the rule of law.

  • TSB

    I just listened to today’s show. Kerry’s pitch reminds me of Colin Powell before the UN on the eve of the Iraq invasion. Kerry and the Obama State department have little credibility. Witness their dedication to the truth re Benghazi. The Syrian chemical attack certainly seems to have a lot of characteristics of a “false flag” operation.
    Even if we accept Kerry’s assertion that Assad was behind the use of the chemical weapons, is it really the wise response to respond with some military action? I appreciate General Scale’s comments very much in this regard. Kerry’s reasoning of “what will our reputation be if we don’t follow through on a previous threat to intervene if a certain redline is crossed? “.. This sounds like a grade school playground sort of reasoning. The promise made by Obama was ill considered. Deciding to recognize and reject a bad idea is wise, not cowardice or weakness. It is why we would like to have wise adults as national leaders and not people who reason like inexperienced kids on a playground. Again, General Scales comments as to what will you do next after your initial limited response that Kerry promised “will not be like Iraq”, fails- this is a very important question. What then?
    As to the concern about innocent lives lost, I see so clearly the rows of dead innocents from our bombing and military intervention in Iraq. According to the Telegraph and the New York Times recent articles- over 116,000 civilian dead in Iraq. The White House and State department’s assertions that we must act militarily to protect innocent lives doesn’t measure up in the light of known facts about military interventions like this. Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan shows that our own military involvement will result in many, many additional innocent deaths, however unintended they may be. Will it matter to those people’s families that their children and families were blown violently into pieces by our bombs as opposed to dying “without a stain of blood evident “, as Kerry put it, from a chemical attack. Will they feel better about seeing mutilated bodies of their family members from our bombs?
    I can’t believe that our government is once again seriously considering bombing another sovereign country that has not attacked us. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. Now Syria? What kind of country have we become?

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 15 25 Comments

A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

An incident of child abuse by an NFL player has raised questions about the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the African-American community.

September 15 26 Comments

Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.

September 12 9 Comments

Senator: Arab Countries ‘Need To Step To The Plate’ In Fight Against ISIS

Mark Begich (D-AK) is one of the few members of Congress speaking out against a key part of President Obama's plan for fighting the Islamic State.

September 12 Comment

Ecuadorian Drilling Damage Inspires Documentary

An American and an Ecuadorian are inspired to help Ecuador heal from decades of drilling and oil spills.