Montgomery Advertiser | Alabamians fretting over Syria
Alabamians fretting over Syria
By Brad Harper
The specter of military action in Syria weighed heavy on the mind of D’Linell Finley all weekend, and on Sunday he saw that he was far from alone.
The Alabama State University adjunct professor is also a pastor, and he said it was a common topic on the lips and minds of his congregation.
“Not only were they talking about it, one of our deacons was praying about it,” Finley said.
The answers aren’t easy, not even for Finley, who has spent decades as a political scientist for the University of Alabama, Auburn Montgomery and ASU. But one common sentiment among Finley and others is that President Barack Obama must prove to the nation that action is necessary.
“I’m think I’m like many Americans,” he said. “Is it a conflict we need to be involved in?
“We have become a war-weary nation because of what happened in Iraq. A lot of people feel that was an unnecessary war.”
Many of Finley’s thoughts were shared by Alabama’s congressional delegation. Two of the state’s five U.S. Representatives said they plan to vote against military action, and the other three said they are undecided ahead of Obama’s speech Tuesday night.
“Before the United States gets involved, I want to hear a clear plan from our Commander-In-Chief for what happens next,” said U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery. “What’s the end game, and how will our military involvement help get us there?”
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said he’s already heard enough to vote “no.”
“Cruise missiles are not a strategy,” Aderholt said. “The President by now should see that foreign policy is far more complex than that.”
Finley said the president has a tougher task ahead than the one that faced President George W. Bush when he was pushing for action against Iraq. He said Obama must prove that the action will reduce the chemical weapons stockpile and prevent them from potentially being used against Americans by terrorists.
“(Obama) has to convince us that there’s a threat to us, and not because of some moral standard,” Finley said. “The fact is that (Syria has) been doing cruel things to their own people for centuries and we’re not going to stop that.”
Finley is also watching with a wary eye as gas prices here rise because of the overseas uncertainty.
AUM economist Keivan Deravi said the stock market already has taken a hit and pump prices have adjusted based on Obama’s plan of action. But questions remain.
“If (military action) is too big, if it’s too extensive, if there’s retaliation, then God knows what the unintended consequences would be,” Deravi said.
Even if the action is limited, Finley is concerned it may have a more dramatic, long-term impact on gas prices in Montgomery.
“Will it be used as an excuse by many of our big oil companies to raise the gas prices?” Finley said. “Every time something happens in the Middle East, the fear drives up prices.”
— Marty Roney contributed to this report.
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