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Todd Phelps, owner of the Black River Adventurers Shop, Watertown, says he supports strictly limited U.S. intervention in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad's regime for its use of chemical weapons. He shared his views with Congressman Bill Owens during a recent bike ride the two shared in Watertown. Photo by Joanna Richards
Todd Phelps, owner of the Black River Adventurers Shop, Watertown, says he supports strictly limited U.S. intervention in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad's regime for its use of chemical weapons. He shared his views with Congressman Bill Owens during a recent bike ride the two shared in Watertown. Photo by Joanna Richards

Listen: North Country messages for the president

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As President Obama makes his push this week to convince Congress to intervene in Syria, we asked north country residents what they think of the situation.

It's not just government that's debating military action in Syria. Yesterday reporter Sarah Harris went to the Mountain Mart and the Price Chopper and Miner Street parking lots in Canton to hear what people in the North Country think. Almost everyone she talked to said they want the U.S. to stay out of the conflict.

Joanna Richards talked with a pair of soldier's wives in a shop in Watertown's Public Square. They were trying on gowns for an Army ball, and said simply they didn't want their husbands to go away again. But other people she talked with also had strong opinions on the issue. One man said he'd tell President Obama to stay out.

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In Canton:

 

"My name is David McCullough, and I’m retired. I live in, town of Elizabeth. So I spent eleven years four months in the military, and five and a half of that was overseas. And I don’t want to see our people with their feet on the ground in Syria. They get arms and legs blown off, and it’s just not right."

 

"My name is Toby Irvin, I live here in Canton and I’m retired. I’ve only seen the TV reports and read some online. What we actually know is probably very little at this point. I think the response has been measured at this point, and I’m glad that we have not taken any direct action, because I don’t think we have all the information. I certainly feel that we don’t need to be involved in another open-ended conflict in the Middle East."

Sarah Harris: If you were going to tell Congressman Owens what you thought, what would you say?

"Well, I already have emailed him, and I asked him to hold off until he had concrete information, and some reason to make a determination that it was in the interest and that it actually affected our interests in the Middle East."

 

"My name’s Natalie Spoon from Hailesboro, NY. I know that they are hurting their own people, that we’ve spent a lot of money in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I don’t, I don’t feel that we should be spending more money in Syria. But also I feel for the people of the country, of what their leaders are doing to them. Well there’s other countries out there also that could help besides the United States, so I feel like maybe somebody else could step up and help besides United States always helping everybody."

 

"My name is Matt Crowley and I’m a student at SUNY Canton. I know there’s been a civil war for about two years, and with us finding out that they’re using chemical weapons against their own people, and so now our government’s having trouble deciding whether we should intervene or not. Yeah I think our country looks at it like we need to protect other countries because we’re sort of like one of the big countries. I think it’s to the point where we probably should intervene, because I think it’s becoming a mess over there."

 

"I’m Janie Legault and (laughs) and I work at Jreck Subs, and I don’t keep up on the news very much, at all. I think that our military has already been through enough and they need to come home. And the U.S. needs to stay out of other people’s business."

 

In Watertown:

 

"Hi, my name is Jake Rutigliano. My biggest problem with it is, he claims that he wanted to get our troops out of Iraq, and yet, we’re not even fully out of there, and he wants to bring our forces into another country. And there’s just a lot things here on U.S. soil that need to be dealt with first, I think, before that even could be thought about. They need to worry about the economic stability in the States before we put our hands somewhere else where it doesn’t belong."

 

"I’m Todd Phelps, I own the Black River Adventurers Shop. We’ve been following it pretty close. Certainly any time that anybody gets deployed from Fort Drum, it takes out of my customer base. I think there has to be something done to keep people from using chemical weapons. There has to be some repercussions for gassing people. I think we’re the only people that can do it.

"I actually talked to my congressman, Bill Owens, last Friday when he was in town and we took him on a short bike ride. I explained to him that I didn’t think we needed to get any closer than a cruise missile. If we could convince Russia to do something punitively, like quit financially providing for them, then that would be a better solution. But we can’t do that, so cruise missile seems to be the safest way for all of our people."

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