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Local News

August 31, 2013

Contemplating war

Attack on Syria is an unpopular option on the North Shore

As goes the nation, so goes the North Shore when it comes to the possibility of responding with force to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

National polls show a reluctance to intervene militarily, and a random sampling of local opinion yesterday got the same results — even as President Obama appeared poised to act, after he’d earlier warned Syria that use of chemical weapons would be a “red line” that the government should not cross in its battle with rebels.

“They should stay out of it,” said Anne Dzierzak of Danvers. “Our soldiers are under enough stress.”

For sure, she said, the gas attack — said to have killed more than 1,400 people, most of whom were women and children — is “horrible. But do we need to get involved in another war? ...I have three sons. I can’t imagine mothers sending their sons to another war.”

Adding that she works at Beverly’s Spears American Legion Post, Dzierzak recalled friends just back from Iraq and Afghanistan and the toll these wars have levied on young veterans, including both physical and emotional wounds. “It takes a lot out of them,” she said.

“It’s very complex,” said Paul Benson of Salem, a UMass professor. “I guess it’s hard to watch what’s going on there and not think that something needs to be done.” On the other hand, he noted, “People are very reticent (to intervene) given the failures of past American policy. ... My own view is mixed. I would approve of a limited military strike to send a message.”

Congress needs to be involved, Benson believes, but there are pitfalls there, too. “It might end up like the British Parliament.” Prime Minister David Cameron went to Parliament for approval in joining the United States in some kind of military response and was narrowly defeated.

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