Please wait for the evidence before Americans start killing Syrians.
The release of sarin gas in Damascus on Aug. 21, resulting in many Syrian civilians killed and crippled, is the stated reason the president has asked Congress to decide whether to use American military force to "punish" the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Please, Congress, wait for the report of the U.N. investigators for evidence as to who released the gas. There is widespread media opinion that "the Opposition" does not have technology to fire poison gas at an enemy, so the media concludes that it must have been the Assad forces that released the sarin.
Members of Congress should keep in mind that there is no single "Opposition" -- there are several distinct groups of armed fighters in Syria, some of which hate each other as much as they hate the Assad regime. It is not impossible that the persistent Internet story, that al-Qaeda smuggled in sarin gas and released the gas in a neighborhood occupied by a rival Opposition group, might be true. Al-Qaeda would benefit if that gas release caused the US to take military action against the Assad government, in three ways: the Assad government would be damaged, the US would be drawn into another waste of resources, and more Syrians would hate the US for killing more Syrians.
Portage County has three members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Mr. Ryan, Mr. Renacci and Mr. Joyce, as many as the state of West Virginia, so we have a special responsibility to express our opinions to them. Better the U.S. should not start killing any Syrians, but if Congress feels compelled to kill somebody, at least wait and identify which ones Congress wants to kill.
Christopher J. Mallin, Mogadore