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Call from Obama might have prevented gas attack

As the world justly condemns the horrific gas attacks in Damascus, Syria, killing over 1,400 people, the debate in Washington and elsewhere over what to do about it is just beginning, and some sort of military action is at the top of the list. There are two items that need to be part of the upcoming congressional discussion.

First, although the Obama administration initially welcomed a U.N. investigation in an Aug. 21 press briefing, it puzzlingly turned 180 degrees around on Aug. 30 when Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States should not wait for the conclusion of the U.N. investigation before deciding on a course of action. What’s the hurry?

Secondly, on Aug. 30 the White House released an assessment on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. It says three days prior to the gas attack, the United States collected much information pointing to an impending chemical weapons attack. The report did not say President Obama called President Bashar Assad during that three-day period prior to the gas attack telling him: “Don’t do it.” Such an effort by Obama may have prevented the attack, if indeed it was carried out by the Syrian government on orders from Assad. Why didn’t Obama make that phone call?

Charley Bowman

WNY Peace Center

Buffalo