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How Should U.S. Respond To Chemical Weapons Attack In Syria?

Photo by Louai Beshara

President Obama has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad, shown here in 2009, against using chemical weapons.

GUESTS

Michael Provence is Professor of Middle Eastern History, UC San Diego, he specializes in Syria.

Sohaib Alagha, a civil engineer here in San Diego and Board Member of the Syrian American Council

Transcript

As Americans celebrated the last big weekend of summer, some may not have realized how close the nation came to another military intervention in the Middle East.

Many people expected President Obama to announce a strike against Syria on Saturday, but instead he asked for Congressional authorization before taking action.

U.S. officials said more than 1,400 people died in a chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21, allegedly carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Along with outrage over the use of chemical weapons, there is also deep opposition from American politicians and the public over launching another military attack in that troubled region.

A local civil engineer and Syrian American Council board member Sohaib Alagha, said he hopes the U.S. will use its power responsibly to bring the situation in Syrian to a negotiated settlement.

"The hope for a U.S. intervention is not to start a war, war had started two and a half years ago," he said. "We hope that with a U.S. intervention will help stop a war and also enforce the international rule which had existed since World War I that the use of chemical weapon is an atrocity that should not be accepted by the international community and U.S."

But Middle Eastern history professor Michael Provence said U.S. action in Syria may be fruitless.

"To think the United States, by it's military might, can affect a positive outcome in the Middle East is to suspend disbelief," he said.

Provence said in the last 30 years, U.S. military intervention in the Middle East has not had a positive effect.

"The United States has never had a successful intervention in the Middle East and has never been able to affect a positive outcome that was good for anybody in the region by use of its military weapons," he said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to debate military action in Syria. Congress is expected to schedule a vote when it returns from recess Sept. 9.

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