Not no but hell no, crowd tells Cleaver on Syria

By Mary Jo Draper

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says President Obama has taken an unprecedented action in asking Congress to approve military action against Syria, and he believes the American people should have an unprecedented opportunity to speak up before Congress votes.

So Cleaver has been listening to people in his 5th District, including the crowd that turned out for a town hall meeting last night at the Health Sciences Institute at 3444 Broadway.

Several Syrian Americans said they supported the president’s proposal for a military strike against Syria. One young women urged Cleaver to support a military strike because of the toll the conflict there is taking upon the Syrian people.

“When we ask Obama to bomb my country, it makes clear how serious this is,” she said.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver at his town hall meeting on Syria.

But the majority of people lining up before the microphones told Cleaver they want him to vote against a military strike, giving various reasons for their opinions.

  • “If something has to be done, indict them for war crimes.”
  • “The general assembly of the United Nations should meet. Let’s have law and order.”
  • “We can’t win. They will retaliate and we will see more terrorist actions here.”
  • “We keep taking on all these fights and our allies seem to be dwindling.”
  • “Not no but hell no. We can’t afford this.”
  • “We don’t want to make this choice, but if we have to, we choose peace.”
  • “Don’t act without a call of the (UN) General Assembly.”
  • “This is taking attention off the recession. Attention should be focused on fixing things here.”

After listening to input for almost two hours, Cleaver told the crowd Congress will meet Monday and debate on the issue may last for several days. He encouraged people who could not attend the town hall to call and email his office before the vote with short messages.

And Cleaver said several times that the Congressional debate may be the most important discussion in Congress since he went there 10 years ago. He told the crowd that the elected officials generally don’t pay much attention to the debate on the floor, but this time it will be different.

“This might be the only time since I’ve been in Congress that the debate actually matters,” he said.

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