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September 05, 2013

Voters in US Heartland Wary of Military Action in Syria

by Kane Farabaugh

As President Barack Obama seeks authorization from Congress for U.S. military strikes on Syria, voters in the U.S. are expressing concerns about another engagement in the Middle East. Though a possible military strike is on the minds of many voters, it's not necessarily the top issue in their discussions with members of Congress still on recess in their home districts.
 
The rural farmlands of Indiana seem about as far away from Syria as most Americans get.
 
In many ways, life here doesn't change much. The passage of time is marked by how tall the crops are growing.
 
At the heart of this farmland is Greentown, population under 2,500.
 
Local U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Millspaugh calls it “a very secure little town.”
 
It has a business district awash with flags, no surprise given the town’s strong connection to the U.S. military.
 
“There are many World War I and II vets here, a lot of people in Vietnam who have served are here, and then the current wars, many are here from that as well,” says Millspaugh.
 
Which explains why many here are war-weary.

“I am,” says Millspaugh. “I would like to be able to go, if we go into a war. I would like to be able to go in and win and come home, and that’s not easily done now.”
 
“It absolutely is a war-weary part of the country,” says freshman Republican Representative Susan Brooks, within whose congressional district Greentown falls. “I think the entire country is weary of war,” she adds.
 
Brooks is in Greentown to meet one-on-one with voters like Karen Swann to understand their concerns. A U.S. military strike against Syria doesn't appear to be one of them. 
 
“That’s in Syria, and we’re here dealing with our day-to-day issues," says Swann.
 
Brooks says she hears more here about the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, calling it by far the biggest issue.
 
Karen Swann says just because the debate over U.S. military action in Syria is not prominent at her meeting with Brooks doesn't mean people are insensitive to the plight of the Syrian people.
 
“It says a little bit that we think we need to mind our business for one thing, and not be the caretaker of the world. But I don’t think that we are insensitive to the people in Syria. I just think we are tired of taking care of the world’s problems,” says Swann.
 
Brooks says that even far beyond Greentown this seems to be the prevailing attitude.

“There is certainly a sentiment across the country against intervening in Syria… However, I believe it is incumbent upon the president - and then will be with respect to the Congress if we would vote to strike - to explain to the American people, and do a far better job explaining what the American interest is.”
 
A vote on U.S. military action could come soon after Congress reconvenes September 9.