The public’s wisdom
All but one of Iowa’s Members of Congress have indicated that they do not intend to vote for a military strike on Syria. Our own Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, is the lone hold-out. King told the Sioux City Journal late last week that he has been too busy to issue a statement on where he stands — unusual for a man with such a strong compass. And, unusual in that he made time to appear with two other congressional Tea Party advocates to congratulate Egypt on its military coup. But we’ll give King this: It is more difficult to come out in support of a limited strike against Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people than it is to steer clear of further Middle East entanglements.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has made the clearest comments so far: He will vote against invading Syria for reasons that are obvious to a majority of Americans:
Bombing Assad back to the Stone Age will not seal the chasm among divisions of Islam.
China and Russia oppose our intentions. The United Nations has not endorsed a strike; in fact, most members are against it.
No one can predict where 30 days of bombing will lead. Anyone who remembers Benghazi, as King certainly should, knows that toppling dictators with bombs and no boots on the ground can lead to all-out regional war.
A CNN poll released on Monday showed more than 70% of Americans opposing a US strike on Syria. Those results closely reflect a survey taken of Iowans by Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, who is running for Harkin’s seat in the Senate.
That tells us that Congress will not endorse President Obama’s request to invade.
Hawkish politicians tell us that we would embrace a strike if we only knew what they knew from their classified briefings. That only enhances public skepticism, considering how the Bush Administration led us to invade Iraq on the faulty premise that it had weapons of mass destruction.
Maybe if the public knew what the war drummers know we would all put on helmets and rush in. But we do not know.
President Obama showed courage in standing alone to call for strikes because chemical weapons were used. He showed an understanding of our Constitution by referring the matter to Congress. For now, it appears, Congress is not ready to throw open the bomb gates and ignite another gunpowder keg on the ground. If the rest of the world cannot respect representative democracy at work, so be it.
And when King figures out which way the presidential wind is blowing, we can expect him to jump out of the shadows of cowardice and account for his position. His opponent, Jim Mowrer of Boone, an Army veteran, supports the President’s call to invade Syria. Mowrer establishes himself as a candidate of integrity willing to go down on his sword.
Slow it down
The Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors has come out in favor of more safety along Hwy. 110 by limiting or reducing parking along the side of the road as it runs past Frank Starr Park. The board asked the Iowa Department of Transportation to restrict parking. It’s an idea worth considering as the area gains more visitors. The better idea to enhance safety would be to reduce the speed limit from 50 mph to 35 mph. Parking and pedestrian traffic across the road would not be much of a problem if the speed limit were adjusted.
This is a route for Sunday drivers every day. People like to look at Little Storm Lake, the wildlife and games in the park. It looks better at a slower speed. This is no place for a 50 mph posted speed. There is simply too much activity in the area for cars and trucks to be whizzing past.
Arrangements could be made for more parking south of the Storm Lake Water Treatment Plant should parking be restricted. But we’re not certain that parked vehicles are the safety problem. IDOT should take speed into account when considering parking.
And, with the county’s zeal for safe traffic around the lake, one might hold out hope that we could build a safe bike trail on the airport blacktop and Hwy. 110. If that means clearing out the parked cars, go for it. More than one bicyclist has been killed or seriously injured trying to ride around the lake on an unsafe route. We are not aware of any pedestrians getting run over because of parked cars along the road.