URBANA — Former U.S. Congressman Tim Johnson said he believes it is not the United States' role to impose its values and way of life on other countries around the world by killing people.
"The cost in an overall sense to our involvement from Korea through Syria is mind-boggling," Johnson said. He was among about 80 people who took part in a candlelight vigil Monday evening at the Champaign County Veterans' Memorial, in opposition to the idea of U.S. military strikes against Syria.
The vigil was organized by MoveOn.org.
"Not only have we lost American men and women to the tunes of hundreds of thousands around the world, but ... we spend trillions of dollars to fight wars that we can't win," said Johnson, who served six terms in Congress.
"We have domestic needs here at home — our education system, our infrastructure, our health care system — that are badly in need of dollars that are being drained by wars that we can't win and kill people. We have taxpayers that are paying too much money. You can't tell me that's worth the price."
Johnson said that decades of military involvement by the United States has shown that more than the lives of American servicemen and women are at risk due to war.
"We also kill innocent Vietnamese and Syrians and Africans and Asians whose lives are just as valuable as ours and their families are just as valuable to them," he said. "So we're going to fight a war that was ill-conceived from the beginning. That's just wrong."
Former Champaign Mayor Dan McCollum said he also opposed air strikes against Syria.
"We simply can't get out of the habit of sticking our nose in militarily around the world," he said. "This is especially egregious because of the lack of international support."
Doug Clough of Urbana said he has been taking part in anti-war events like Monday's vigil since the Vietnam War.
"It don't think war is an appropriate activity," Clough said. "The president shouldn't get us involved in that country. We seem to always add more killing to what is going on."
Moonyeen Carlyle of Champaign said she also opposes the proposed bombing of Syria.
"We should leave it alone," she said. "We should take care of our own country. What is going on in Syria is heart wrenching, but it is not our business."
Chuck Segard of Champaign said the United States should consider alternatives to military action.
"We shouldn't be so quick to start another war," Segard said. "I don't think we have exhausted all the things we can do. I don't see what the rush is all about."
Robert Naiman of MoveOn.org urged those taking part in the candlelight vigil to contact members of Congress to provide their views.