Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

RST: Should the U.S. take military action against Syria?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Sep 9, 2013 1:33 PM

What to look for on Radio Smart Talk, Tuesday, September 10, 2013:

Syria map 300 x 240.png

In some ways, the debate over whether the United States should take military action against Syria feels like the run up to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Ten years ago, President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell made the case for war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, saying Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had already used chemical weapons on the Kurds in northern Iraq years before.

No WMDs were ever found and the intelligence was determined to be wrong.

This time though, there are more than 1,400 dead Syrians, including 400 children who were gassed last month.  There is video and eyewitness evidence.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies he is responsible but the Obama Administration says there is no doubt Assad called for the chemical attack.

President Obama will be sure to point out the differences Tuesday night when he addresses the nation and calls for military strikes against the government and army of Assad. (WITF-TV and WITF-FM 89.5 will broadcast President Obama's speech).

Also unlike Iraq, Obama says this will be a limited engagement to discourage Assad from using chemical weapons again and possibly cripple the Syrian military.

Another difference is there may be a last-minute solution as Assad said he would agree to a Russian proposal to put his chemical stockpile under international control.

As Congress prepares to make a decision, Radio Smart Talk ask you -- should the U.S. launch a military strike against Syria?  Why or why not?

Appearing on the program is Dr. Andrew Wolff, assistant professor of political science and international studies at Dickinson College and Dr. Sylvia Alajaji, an assistant professor of Ethnomusicology in the music and international studies department at Franklin and Marshall College.

Listen to the show:


Dr. Andrew Wolff and Dr. Sylvia Alajaji

back to top
  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-10 08:23

    Thomas writes:

    This is the success of a tacit, multi-lateral agreement that blood and fear and death are the acceptable price of keeping two sets of enemies fighting one another.

    The White House must be forced to face very real strategic questions that appeared to emerge as an afterthought to its warplanning: what is the administration’s ultimate goal in Syria? If not Assad, then who?

    In a number of interviews to European news outlets, the former hostages - Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin and Italian journalist Domenico Quiric - said they overheard an English-language Skype conversation between their captors and other men which suggested it was rebel forces, not the government, that used chemical weapons on Syria’s civilian population in an August 21 attack near Damascus.

    So NO America needs to stop its warmongering!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-10 08:24

    Joan writes:


  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-10 08:24

    Renee in Lancaster writes:

    I support President Obama's stance that chemical weapons are a reason to use military action against Syria. The world has deemed chemical weapons a serious threat to the world (let's hear a discussion on the Holocaust) and one which we will not permit, excuse or ignore. Even if we stand alone, we stand on the side of right. Leadership isn't always easy and shouldn't be governed by polls. I am happy to hear that Syria may turn over its weapons - and it seems to be proof that military action, even the threat, does make a difference.

  • Roger & Mary Kay img 2013-09-10 08:44

    We oppose military action. We feel that it would destabilize the area even more.

    The international community has condemned the use of chemical weapons so a response is appropriate. We feel we should seek a path of restorative justice instead of retributive justice. We need to seek life-giving action to assist the Syrian people.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-10 08:44

    Brad writes:

    WMD (whether chemical, nuclear or biological) is materially different than any other weapon. Their significance is simply the catastrophic damage they could do if they were used to attack us. If those weapons proliferate then they will be available to international actors who would like to use those weapons against us.

    I think in the end we do need to take action. It needs to be effectively nuanced and in my mind especially focused on degrading his air defense structure sufficient to open him up to a devastating strike by Israel should that ever prove necessary.

    Not so much as “punishment”, more a deterrent. I think it needs to be severe enough to get the attention of Assad and all others who desire WMD and would use them – Iran, North Korea, et al.

    • robin img 2013-09-10 11:25


  • Politics Watcher img 2013-09-10 08:57

    Why are people talking as if Obama plans to solve the civil war? His strike has nothing to do with the civil war. It's about the use of chemical weapons.

  • robin img 2013-09-10 11:21

    Forty years ago I read Wilfred Owen’s , poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” , a graphic description of a Poison Gas attack – it has remained with me ever since. (Owen was a victim of the war a few weeks later)
    I know today's culture considers ‘History’ to be the 1990s, but a short century ago the Great War as it was called, taught some indelible lessons we ignore at our peril.
    The fact that Chemical weapons were not used in the subsequent and much larger World War two is evidence of that.
    Precedents of this magnitude must be respected.
    I hope the alternative Russian plan being discussed is successful.
    If Syria suffers no consequence for its use of Poison Gas the community of nations should be ashamed for its collective amnesia