PUC professor says time for military strike is gone

2013-09-12T20:45:00Z 2013-09-23T21:28:37Z PUC professor says time for military strike is goneBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | A Purdue University Calumet professor contends he would have favored using military force immediately following Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons in eastern Damascus on August 21.

Professor Valentino Martinez, also a retired State Department official, said, "If the thing is to be done, do it quickly. Now, don't do it at all. It's too late. It makes no sense to do it now."

Those comments come as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry begins discussions in Switzerland based on a Russian initiative to avert a U.S.-led strike. Under that plan, the Syrian government would put its chemical weapons under international control.

Martinez, along with Richard Rupp and Margaret Rincker, professors in the political science department, shared their perspectives about the Syrian Civil War, prospects for a wider regional war and related questions facing America and its citizens during a presentation Thursday night.

Martinez said Americans have gone to war before because of "credibility" issues but he said he doesn't want to see another U.S. soldier killed for that cause.

While Martinez believes there should have been immediate "punishment" for of the alleged chemical warfare that killed 1,400 people, he also said Americans are "war weary."

Martinez said President Obama has clearly not been a fan of getting into the Syrian conflict, even though the president said previously "chemical warfare" was a line that should not be crossed.

Once that line was crossed, Martinez said the president and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry both used "strong rhetoric" about a possible military strike. Martinez said the president also has mentioned the possibility of the International Criminal Court becoming involved in the issue, which Martinez said is not a bad idea.

Rupp noted that though the constitution gives the power to Congress to declare war and the Commander in Chief to execute it, "Congress long ago abdicated its responsibility."

Rupp said previous presidents made a decision regarding United States involvement, then told Congress.

"Congress has been quite happy with the president leading," Rupp said.

The professors said some will view Obama's actions as democratic while others will call them weak.

In response to a question regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's opinion piece in the New York Times Thursday, Martinez said it was basically "a plea to follow international law," meaning force should not be used unless under military threat.

Rincker, who provided the crowd with the history of Syria and background the war, said, "I am hopeful that Obama will let Putin poke fun at the U.S. and let Putin/Russia have their day."

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