The specter of yet another United States military venture in the Middle East sparked heated protests Friday outside Congresswoman Susan Davis’ San Diego office.
Several dozen supporters and opponents of U.S. involvement in the ongoing Syrian conflict picketed in the 90 degree heat for nearly three hours. Each side stood on opposite sides of Adams Ave trading protest chants like:
“1, 2, 3, 4 we dont need another war – 5, 6, 7, 8, stop the killing, stop the hate.” While proponents of U.S. involvement countered with slogans like, “1, 2, 3, 4, kick Bashar out the door.”
Ray Lutz, Founder and National Coordinator for Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPs), helped organize the anti-intervention presence. COPs is a citizens advocacy group focused on engaging and mobilizing voters so they get involved with government at the local level. Many of those in favor of intervention were mobilized by the Syrian-American Council, which translated into their primarily humanitarian calls for action.
While addressing the crowd, Lutz laid out key points for the anti-war position:
- The international community is largely against unilateral action
- There is no national interest intervention, only the “military industrial complex” can benefit
- Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups will be emboldened by direct U.S. involvement
- Thousands of U.S. lives and trillions of tax dollars are likely to be lost as a result of military intervention
Although most who supported intervention remained across the street, several Syrian-American activists crossed the lines and were welcomed to share their viewpoint. One such protester, Wael Sawah, offered his personal appeal for the United States to prevent further Syrian suffering.
“[We must stop] this savage, uncivilized regime that has killed so far 100,000 innocent people, that has arrested, tortured, and killed more than 500,000 people, that forced people to leave their homes and be refugees inside and outside Syria. Five million people now live in inhumane conditions and finally this regime used chemical weapons against his own people. No one can guarantee that this regime will not use the chemical weapons again…”
While some are convinced that the Assad regime was responsible for the deployment of chemical weapons in the war-torn country, definitive proof has yet to verified by the international community.
Those cynical of the state of today’s political discourse would be surprised to learn both sides shared their views aggressively yet respectfully at the same lectern. As the debate continues in Congress, whether or not armed military resources should be committed to Syria, voters are speaking up across the country.