MANATEE -- Residents from Manatee and Sarasota counties had plenty to say to Congressman Vern Buchanan on Saturday morning about the possibility of a U.S. air strike on Syria.
Buchanan, already on record opposing an attack Syria, held a town hall meeting at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus to hear local voters' opinions as the U.S. considers an attack.
One Jewish resident spoke up, saying it was his strong feelings against attacking Syria that brought him out on the holy day.
"Yes it's horrible that they are killing innocent women and children, yes someone should do something," Ian Howard said. "And that
someone is the United Nations."
Howard said that only three things justified an attack: immediate self defense, an ally asking for help and in response to a threat to international safety. None of those are the case, Howard said.
"Why should we be the world's police dogs?" Howard said.Buchanan agreed.
"If we know we are going to get hit, we can defend ourselves. If we get hit, we deal with it," Buchanan said. "But I don't want to go hit someone. The world is too fragile, and we have too many of our own issues."
Arlene Lamarca, of Siesta Key, was distraught about the direction the town hall meeting was taking.
"I've been here for the last 25 minutes and I haven't heard one word about chemical weapons because that's why I thought we were going into Syria and not to be involved in a civil war," Lamarca said. "All I have heard so far is billions, money, money, oil, billions, money, money, money."
Buchanan directed the question back to her, asking what she thought about attacking because of the 1,300 people that were gassed, allegedly by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"If we give a pass to him, then we give a pass to the rebels," Lamarca said. "We give a pass to everyone."
Dr. Dale Burroughs, of Bradenton, shared the concerns of the Christians in Israel who she works with.
"Every time we have gone in, the collateral damage is the Christians," Burroughs said. "Basically it's faith genocide right now."
She said she has been told even as bad as Assad is, the country is at least stabilized enough so that the factions aren't killing the minority Christians.
"I have heard from a lot of Christian communities that are very concerned about it," Buchanan said. "We need to help the refugees and others."
Michael Polelle, of Sarasota, was concerned the repercussions of attacking the units in Syria that control the chemical weapons.
"Now if we bomb and take out that unit, what happens to the chemical weapons? They will be dispersed," Polelle said. "A desperate Assad will probably use them for sure, and if the rebels get them, they will use them against Assad, so we will increase the use of chemical warfare by bombing the unit that is now controlling them."
Polelle quoted John Quincy Adams in saying, "America does not go abroad in order to slay monsters, we have to protect our national interests.' "
Buchanan stressed the uncertainty of the situation.
"Did he use the chemical weapons, high probability that he did," Buchanan said.
"Did he absolutely, we don't a hundred percent know."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.