COEUR d’ALENE — As the Trump Administration considered military action in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria April 7, some North Idaho citizens took to the streets Friday to protest another American war in the Middle East.
“We should stay out of Syria,” said Coeur d’Alene resident Holly Handeen. “We should make sure our country is strong and make it a place where our kids can live in peace.”
She also expressed sadness over the number of American troops who have died and been injured in the Middle East since 2001.
Jennifer Luoma of Bayview agreed.
“It’s a waste of our human and financial resources,” she said.
Athol resident Linda Littlejohn questioned the official narrative of the chemical attacks. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is winning against ISIS, she said.
“Why would he launch a chemical attack on his people when he’s making progress and driving out ISIS?” she asked.
She added that the United States should not attempt another regime change, referring to the 2003 invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein.
Rex Barraclough said he was protesting because of the incredible cost of wars in the Middle East.
“We’re now at the point of our grandchildren’s grandchildren being in debt because of these wars,” he said. “How many Tomahawk missiles can we buy before the credit card runs out?” asked the Athol resident.
Handeen shared that sentiment. “What’s going to be left for them?” she wondered, referring to her kids.
Contacted by The Press, three congressional candidates from North Idaho weighed in as well to oppose military action. Democratic candidate for Congress Michael Smith served 14 years combined in the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army, including tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Post Falls resident said he doesn’t trust the Trump Administration to make the proper call on military intervention in Syria.
“The current administration has proven to be untrustworthy. Given all that we know about the current conflict in Syria, and the current administration, I would not condone any military action by this administration,” Smith said.
Republican candidate for Congress Nick Henderson of Post Falls sounded a similar note, citing the fact that America has been at war for nearly two decades and claiming that the costs have been too high. The U.S. Army veteran served in Iraq and said he doesn’t think American military action in Syria is justified.
“I know firsthand the nature of man and war, and I know that we are not fighting for the right reasons,” Henderson said. “We now find ourselves in a situation where there are those in power, on both sides of the aisle, calling for yet another front in this seemingly endless war. I want to make my position on this matter abundantly clear: I am completely opposed to the United States entering into combat action against Syria, and if the matter came to me in Congress I would vote against war.”
Republican candidate for Congress Michael Snyder of Bonners Ferry said Idahoans oppose the rush to war.
“Everywhere I go in Idaho’s First Congressional District, people are telling me that they do not want to see military action against Syria,” he said. “I am completely and totally against a military strike.”
In contrast, Republican candidate for Congress Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa said she supports taking military action against the Syrian government.
“This is the second time in a year that the regime in Syria has used chemical weapons against their own people,” she said. “Our first strike against Syria apparently didn’t send a strong enough message, and so I would support the president’s decision to strike high-value targets in Syria.”
Post Falls resident and Libertarian candidate for Congress W. Scott Howard expressed a different view. While agreeing that American troops should not be the world’s police force, he added that he would support military action if authorized by the United Nations and the U.S. Congress.
“It is up to the international community to make a collective decision on how to proceed,” he said.
Fellow congressional candidates Rep. Luke Malek, Russ Fulcher, David Leroy, Alex Gallegos, and James Vandermaas did not respond to requests for comment by press time.