Congressman Dan Benishek, the representative for the Michigan district I live in, sent an email to his constituents stating:
As you may know, the Obama Administration is looking into carrying out military airstrikes against Syria. While I respect the President’s role as Commander-in-Chief, I am OPPOSED to beginning another war in the Middle East given the current situation.
I emailed him to thank him for opposing an attack on Syria. But then I received a reply stating the following:
Thank you for making the effort to communicate with me regarding Unites States military intervention in Syria. As your elected representative, I appreciate the opportunity to learn your views.
I noted your opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria, and I agree with you….
I believe that engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution. That’s why I signed a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of military force in Syria.
From your expressed opposition to the Obama administration waging war on Syria, I thought you represented my view on this issue. I am disappointed to learn that I was wrong. I am disappointed to hear that you think it would be acceptable for the U.S. government to wage war against the country of Syria if the Executive received authorization from Congress to do so. Surely you cannot be unaware that to bomb Syria would be to commit the crime known as aggressive war, defined at Nuremberg as “the supreme international crime”, regardless of Congressional “authorization”. Surely you must know that under international law, there are only two conditions in which the use of force is considered legitimate: if in self-defense against armed aggression or authorized by the U.N. Security Council. Syria has not attacked the United States of America. Nor has the U.N.S.C. authorized any use of force. Your position on this issue thus makes you complicit in the crime of conspiracy to commit aggression, for which we also hanged Nazis at Nuremberg. And if the U.S. does wage a war of aggression against Syria – indeed, it arguably already has been for some time by training and arming the rebels, whose ranks include Islamist extremists and al-Qaeda affiliated groups – you will be complicit in “the supreme international crime”. The blood will be on your hands.
I urge you to reconsider your position on this issue and take a stand against lawlessness rather than participating in it.
Jeremy R. Hammond
On Monday, I received another reply from his office:
As you may know, President Obama is currently seeking approval from Congress for an American military strike against Syria. I am planning to vote NO on this plan. I don’t believe getting America involved in another nation’s civil war in the Middle East is in the best interest of our nation.
But this vote is not about me, it’s about you. Over the past week, I have received thousands of correspondences from citizens in Northern Michigan expressing their thoughts on this important issue. The overwhelming majority has been opposed to new military action in Syria. We the people are speaking and I am hopeful Washington will listen.
The loss of innocent life and violence we’ve seen in Syria has been heartbreaking, but I don’t think people in Northern Michigan see a military strike as the solution.
I believe that after a decade of war in the Middle East, citizens in Northern Michigan have grown tired of war and rightfully weary about getting involved in another conflict. Tragically, we have seen far too many young Americans return to our soil in flag-draped coffins over the past ten years. I want to see this stop.
I intend to vote against the President’s war plan, but I want to continue hearing feedback from Northern Michigan. I want to hear what you have to say. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts on the Syria situation by calling me at 202.225.4735 or emailing me through my website at www.benishek.house.gov.
Dan Benishek M.D.
Member of Congress
Michigan’s First District
It is encouraging to know that so many Michiganders contacted their representative to demand that he vote against any Congressional “authorization” for yet another illegal war.