By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Whether the United States should attack the nation of Syria for allegedly firing chemical weapons on its own civilians, drew mixed reactions Monday from local people when they were asked whether President Obama should be allowed to do so.
A debate about attacking the Middle Eastern country began when chemical weapons were allegedly used on civilians. Some analysts claim the weapons were fired on orders of Syrian President Assad, who is fighting to stay in power. Others counter they were launched by the rebels seeking to overthrown him. People shopping Monday at the Mercer Mall had mixed feelings about whether the United States should respond.
A Mercer County resident, Joan Cleburn, 53, said she did not follow politics, but understood why some people feel there is a need to strike at Syria. She added that she also understood that America has already tried to help people in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We can’t just sit by and watch a lunatic kill his own people,” Cleburn said. “On the other hand, we have gone above and beyond what we have done in the world. That whole situation there is just sad.”
Another person said the United State might need to strike at Syria to prove action will be taken if chemical weapons are used, but the president does not have any good choices.
“I think as a whole, Obama is going to have to pick the lesser of the evils,” said Whitney Horne, 16, of Bluefield, Va.
One Concord University graduate who is returning soon to his home in Turkey said his nation is Syria’s neighbor.
“To me, America is where the oil is,” said Mehmet Celiktas of Istanbul. “The United States may take advantage of Syria’s war to attack there just like Afghanistan and Iraq were attacked.” He felt the United States should be addressing its own problems such as the health care issue.
“You have a big country here,’ Celiktas said. “You should be busy with your own country.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin has suggested that his country take custody of Syria’s chemical weapons. Ron Carver, 56, of Glenwood thought the idea of having either Russia or the United Nations accept control of the chemical stockpiles had merit.
“I think there should be something we can work with, I hope,” he said.
A Mercer County resident felt the United States should stay out of Syria. What is happening there is a tragedy, but only France has offered any support for an attack, Joe Horton, 81, of Bluefield said.
“We spend billions of dollars not every year, but every month, in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Joe Horton said. “It’s a shame the United States should (attack) one country after another and waste money needed in America.”