Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 5, 2013

Group of local protestors voice opposition to proposed military strike

By ROGER SCHNEIDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — While Secretary of State John Kerry was attempting to sell a military strike on Syria to a House committee Wednesday, Moses Beachy was holding up a sign in downtown Goshen that said, “War is bankrupting America.”

That contrast of opinion on what to do in Syria is blanketing America. But for Beachy and a small group of like minded anti-war protesters in Goshen, the proposed attack on Syria is just the latest attempt by the United States to solve foreign policy issues with force.

“I have never seen it helpful to make war and kill people to have peace,” the 88-year-old Beachy said. “That just doesn’t work that way.”

Even if Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad use of chemical weapons on his opponents in that country’s civil war is confirmed, Beachy said negotiation, not warfare is the best option.

Mabel Brunk of Goshen agreed with Beachy. Brunk said she has seen the aftermath of the Coalition invasion of Iraq, where she traveled after the invasion as part of a Christian Peacemakers delegation.

“No,” Brunk said, “I don’t think we should use force on them. I don’t think fighting is the way to solve problems.”

“And you know, we are the only country that has used a nuclear bomb,” Brunk said, referencing the World War II attacks on Japan. “Would we have wanted any other country to come in and do something to us because we did that? It’s not rational, but that is not why. I just think it’s wrong to kill people. It will only inflame people there.”

She suggested the United States continue to negotiate with the Syrian leader.

The conversation at Main and Lincoln about what to do in Syria turned international when Henny and Barry Connolly stopped their car and walked over to tell the protesters they were sympathetic to their cause.

Visiting the U.S. from their home in the Netherlands, the couple said they were against an attack.

“What you say,” Barry told Beachy, “That is what we have been saying for many years. Stop waging war.”

A man passing by heard that and offered, “You can’t when they are coming over and bombing your country.”

“They don’t come from Syria —  unbelievable,” Barry countered.

Henny said the Dutch people are forever grateful for the Americans who liberated their country during World War II.

“Of course, the Second World War was something different,” she said.

Barry’s anti-war stance is not a new philosophy for him. As a young man in the 1960s he refused to be drafted. At that time that meant a two-year prison sentence or alternative service in a Netherlands mental institution, he said. But because he was a teacher and there was a shortage of teachers at that time, his alternative service was teaching in an elementary school in Rotterdam.

“It’s never OK to kill anyone,” Barry said.

He is also worried that the option of providing weapons to the Syrian opposition might come back to haunt the United States by having those weapons used against Americans.

As for military strikes changing the Assad regime’s war plan like Kerry and President Obama contend it will, Barry said, “I am not convinced.”