A Letter to Rep. Jared Polis: I Ask You For Courage

Signatories of the Geneva Protocol, courtesy of  Wikimedia
Signatories of the Geneva Protocol, courtesy of Wikimedia

This letter was sent to Rep. Polis on 31 August 2013. 

Dear Sir:

I write in the hope that my words will not be unheeded, and that you will act as a representative of all your constituents.

At the next session of Congress, President Obama will request a vote from you and all representatives on the issue of military intervention in Syria. I urge you to support this intervention and to vote for authorization of force.

Like many around the world, I have watch the horror of the Syrian civil war unfold for two years. I remember weeping in Colorado in the Fall of 2011, watching livestream coverage of the shelling in the city of Homs. I watched the tens of thousands stream into the streets of Aleppo to demand their rights as free citizens. I watched in horror as the conflict spiraled and moved throughout the nation, even into Damascus.

And last week, I watched children dying from chemical weapons in Damascus.

There is no reasonable doubt that chemical warfare is currently being waged in Syria. There is no reasonable doubt that the Al-Assad regime is using these weapons against its own people. There is no reasonable doubt that the international community is bound by duty and by signature of the Geneva Protocol and the Chemical Weapons Conventions.

Sir, I write as one about to move from Colorado to the United Kingdom. That country’s parliament recently rejected the call to action in the face of such atrocity, and will not assume its normal position as our ally in military action. This situation has not happened since 1782. I know that the situation in Syria is complex, and that there are no clear-cut answers to the problems of intervening. I know that there are many in the United States and beyond who are calling any intervention illegal/immoral/some kind of conspiracy. Any military strike will bring strong opposition. Many compare this situation to the same in 2003. But Syria is not Iraq. Syria is not Libya. Syria is not Afghanistan.

I ask you for courage.

I lived in South Korea all of last year, and I was thankful daily for the international intervention that we call the Korean War. It cost thousands of lives, and there is evidence it was not always fought justly, but that fight was necessary. Millions were displaced, and millions more would have been if not for the brave actions of our own soldiers (my grandfather included) and those of our allies. My South Korean students are able to live in a free, democratic, and prosperous country only 60 years after the official cessation of hostilities. I have such hopes for Syria.

The people of Syria know that the world is watching. They know that the world has stood by and allowed more than two years of wholesale slaughter in their country. If we fail to act, they will never forget it. And those who seek to harm their own people will know that any agreements the international community holds are toothless, that the collective struggle for human rights can be derailed by selfish national interests.

In 2003, I wrote letters to my representatives. I begged them not to go to war in Iraq. I warned them of the future repercussions of an invasion. I am not pro-war, and I never have been. But a breach of international law requires action, or a dangerous precedent is set.

I ask you to vote “Yes” on a resolution that authorizes military force in Syria. Please contact me if you require any clarification.

Kindest Regards,
Coleen Monroe

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