September 5, 2013

The use of maiming and lethal gas as a military option is rightly and universally abhorred. The long-established restrictions on chemical weapons were the civilized world’s response to the ghastly consequences of their use in World War I.

Whatever the long-term U.S. strategy in Syria, with or without U.N. and international backing, allowing the use of chemical weapons to go unanswered encourages their use in the future. This imperils all of the world’s militaries, leaving them vulnerable to the terrible effects of chemical weapons. The U.S. military will be at greater risk if we waver in our condemnation of their use.

Mike Barnes, Arlington

As someone who twice voted for President Obama, I seldom find myself agreeing with Kathleen Parker. However, her Sept. 4 op-ed column, “To bomb or not to bomb,” summed up the situation quite accurately. Mr. Obama painted himself into a corner, that is clear, but that is no reason to go to war. Better to admit to having spoken too hastily. As Ms. Parker noted, a willingness to be wise is a better measure of a nation’s credibility than is lashing out.

The vast majority of Americans opposes a strike with no clear purpose and with the risk of empowering terrorist groups or igniting a global confrontation. Our president has a duty to listen to such a clear majority.

Virginia B. Levy, Rockville

Charles Lane argued in his Sept. 3 op-ed column, “Syria, a bipartisan cause,” that Congress should think long and hard before denying the president the authority to attack Syria, even though Americans are justifiably “war-weary.” It makes it sound like a great many of us have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times and we’re worn out.

Of course, this is not true. Less than 1 percent of us has served in these war zones, and many of those who have served have been deployed multiple times. If anyone is war-weary, it is these troops.

Most of us are not war-weary, but we are war-averse. We don’t want our troops, who served so ably in Iraq and Afghanistan, to deploy to a third war zone.

Thomas E. McMahon, Reston

The end of the Sept. 4 news article “Questions for Congress as it debates a strike in Syria” stated, “The truth is probably that the American political process is not well understood in foreign capitals.” The sad truth is that the American political process is not well understood in the United States.

George Poulson, Clifton