UTAH NEWS CONNECTION
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah and much of the nation will watch as Congress opens debate today on a potential U.S. military strike on Syria. President Obama is expected to address the nation Tuesday as he pushes for military action. Obama said the Syrian regime must be punished for using chemical weapons against its own people. Opponents said the action could lead the U.S. into another costly war.
Mattea Kramer, director of research, National Priorities Project, said a military strike will be pricey. Firing million-dollar-plus Tomahawk cruise missiles, such as those used against Libya a couple of years ago, will get expensive, Kramer warned.
"In the first hour of our strike on Libya, we launched 110 of those missiles," Kramer said.
The total bill for Libya, Kramer said, turned out to be more than $1 billion. There is no way of predicting how much military intervention in Syria would cost, she said, but she pointed out that the Bush administration had predicted that intervening in Iraq would cost no more than $60 billion. Ten years later, the bill is more than $800 billion.
Across the nation, faith communities prayed for peace over the weekend, and some plan candlelight vigils for tonight. Mery Zerkel, co-coordinator of the Wage Peace campaign, Chicago American Friends Service Committee, said her organization has had people in the region for a very long time, and they understand that Syria's problems are complicated. She pointed out that it is not just about two choices - to bomb or not to bomb.
"There are more than two options. We have to look at a cease fire, the comprehensive arms embargo, the humanitarian assistance on the ground," Zerkel said.
President Obama has told reporters that he is aware of American opposition to a military strike. However, he said Congress needs to make a decision that is right for the country.
Prof. Marjorie Cohn, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, said even if Congress approves the strike, it would be illegal under international law because the United States has not met the two conditions that the United Nations Charter requires for such action.
"Either acting in self defense or if the Security Council approves it. The Security Council has not approved this military strike," Cohn said.
Obama may have a tough time making his case to the American people. Recent polling showed nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military action against Syria.
More information is available from the American Friends Service Committee at afsc.org; from the National Priorities Project at nationalpriorities.org; and from Reuters at reuters.com.