, Salem, MA

September 10, 2013

Letter: On Syria, the time to act is now

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” — General George S. Patton

Although I understand Brian Watson’s concerns, voiced in his Sept. 5 column (“Syrian war may defy U.S. action”), I must agree with both the editorial “America left weaker after Syria debacle” and Chase Schaub’s opinion piece (“U.S. must take action on Syria”) as well. As a serviceman for the past 11 years and a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, I feel I can speak on this matter with credibility. Fortunately for me, Gen. Patton has saved me the trouble. Our president drew a clear line in the sand for Syria in August of 2012. We have no choice but to take action. On a side note, I believe we need to answer the atrocities Assad’s government has committed both decisively and without regret.

Mr. Watson is correct. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty associated with military action. Military men know this. We also know, to paraphrase Moltke, “that no plan survives first contact, intact.” What Mr. Watson related in his article is called “war gaming” and we could “war game” and “what if” this situation eternally, but Gen. Patton was right. It is better to act sooner rather than later. I do believe Mr. Watson is correct in his belief that this is a global issue and the rest of the world should be addressing these atrocities. It has become abundantly clear they are not willing to take action or in the case of the Russian government, actually support Assad’s response. Shame on them.

Addison wrote, “He who hesitates is lost.” It is a well-known saying. The rest of this quote, I believe, speaks directly to the current global crisis at hand: “Swift and resolute action leads to success; self-doubt is a prelude to disaster.” Like it or not. The time to act is now. Anything less and we are diminished; as a government and more importantly as a people.

Capt. George Abboud

U.S. Army National Guard