Right now our country and the world are in an uproar over President Obama’s plan to bomb Syria.
Whatever his real, behind the scenes reasons may be, we the people must deal with the issue in the way it is being framed for the public. Because Congress decides next week whether or not to authorize military action, Washington needs to hear that we want much better ways of dealing with any and all Syrians using poison gas.
The biggest challenge for us now is finding succinct ways to say that in ways our leaders can hear. Americans always like “to do things better.” Already there are a lot of detailed, well-researched proposals for how to better enforce international law re this particular use of poison gas. See http://fcnl.org/issues/middle_east/Syria_Leave_Behind_for_GR_-_Maiya_9.5.13.pdf for a one page handout in simple language, and the home page at http://www.fcnl.org for in-depth alternatives, plus tools for lobbying, op-ed writing and so on.
Beyond that level, “better” should also include the U.S. leading a breakthrough to new international norms for dealing with war criminals. If we want other countries to obey international law, we must model that ourselves. We are the people who believe in the rule of law, in democracy, in civilian-led law and order, aren’t we? No other countries or peoples in the world approve of poison gas. So far the world is with us, and it is time for Mr. Obama to listen to the people of the world about what to do next. The moment Dwight D. Eisenhower predicted has come. He said,” I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.”
I know President Obama has just said he has heard about alternatives, and they don’t impress him. But maybe he and our Congress need to hear again what we have to say:
- We can do better than bombs! Change course, Mr. Obama!
- Change course, Mr. Obama! Bombs backfire!
Susan C. Strong, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of The Metaphor Project, and author of our new book, Move Our Message: How To Get America’s Ear. The Metaphor Project has been helping progressives mainstream their messages since 1997. Follow Susan on Twitter @SusanCStrong.