Action Alert:

Letter to Sen. Markey on Syria

Massachusetts Peace Action sent the following letter to Sen. Ed Markey.


                                                                                                            August 30, 2013

Senator Ed Markey
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Markey,

Massachusetts Peace Action is deeply shocked and saddened by your recent statements on National Public Radio, favoring an attack on Syria. We agree that a chemical attack on innocent civilians is a horrific crime, and whoever is responsible should be held to strictest account for it. But even if it is eventually established that President Assad is responsible, your support for a military attack on Syria is deeply, deeply, troubling. 

Our disappointment is heightened by the fact that Massachusetts Peace Action promoted you in your senatorial campaign.

What are our objections to your statements?

Firstly, your acceptance of the siren song of “surgical strikes”. These Tomahawk strikes are explosions of 260 pounds of high explosives, killing anyone in the area. The New York Times has reported that the Syrian military has been moving its military equipment and supplies into residential areas. How much “collateral” death will these strikes cause? How many collateral deaths of innocent people are acceptable in this effort to “send a message”?

Secondly, you speak of strikes “limited in scope and duration”, and of the need for an “end-game strategy”.  But then you also speak of the possibility of needing “subsequent strikes”, and “further escalation”. These statements are inconsistent, and point to the fact that there is no exit strategy in this approach. If President Assad were to employ the same strategy, this would result in a spiral of escalation, which might even bring Russia into this conflict. Iran has already said it would attack Israel if the U.S. attacks Syria.

Thirdly, the United Nations Treaty, which the U.S. endorsed in 1948, committed the U.S. to take military action only in response to a U.N. Security Council Resolution. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that treaties are the “supreme law of the land”. An attack on Syria, without Security Council support, would on the face of it be an act in contravention of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, it would undermine U.S. credibility when it calls other nations to account for violating the U.N. Charter in the future.

So what should be done instead?

a) The warring parties should start negotiating.

b) The international community should immediately act to avert a pending humanitarian disaster, by supplying food, medicine, and shelter to the millions of persons displaced by this war.

c) If the evidence points to President Assad, he should be charged with war crimes, and tried by the International Criminal Court.

d) The U.S. should seek to negotiate a strong worldwide condemnation of this use of chemical weapons.

e) The U.S. should seek to halt all weapons flowing into Syria, from the Gulf states, Turkey, Russia and Iran, and should not send arms ourselves.

f) We should all learn from history. When the U.S. invaded Viet Nam to help the victims of Communist atrocities, millions of innocent victims died. When the U.S. invaded Iraq to help the victims of Saddam Hussein, and to clear out the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, hundreds of thousands of innocent victims died. Is this helping?

We sincerely hope you will reconsider your statements, and come to a new understanding of the options that we have.


Coleman Harrison                                                                   Shelagh Foreman

Executive Director                                                                   Program Director