UK & World News
Damascus In US Weighs Up Appetite For War
Damascus, Maryland, has a population of 15,000. It's 40 miles away from the Syria lobbying frenzy on Capitol Hill. The main focus here are preparations for this weekend's community fair.
The Red Rooster diner has been run by the Miller family for 35 years. Owner Pat Miller says among her fellow Damascans, there's little appetite for war.
"We've got lots on our plate right now. I'm all for helping everybody but it scares me."
Her daughter-in-law Margo shares her scepticism: "I cant think how any person in history could even think to do such an act but if strike aren't we doing the same act - do two wrongs make a right?"
On the whole Americans are lukewarm to the idea of Syrian intervention. The latest polls say around 60% of people are against it.
As one Red Rooster customer puts it: "Who's the enemy? We don't know - are they good guys or bad guys? Which one's which? Too much unknown. No support from the UN. Absolutely not."
The repeated message from the politicians to the people is that this isn't just about some conflict far away - it could have direct consequences for the US.
So has the American public bought into the idea that national security is being threatened?
A customer at the local hardware store suggests the answer is yes: "I do think its a direct threat I mean - its a global economy its not just one country and another country.
"If we don't stand up and say 'you can't do this' the next thing you know they're going to hit Israel or somebody else then they're going to launch nuclear weapons and we're going to be in trouble."
Shop worker Scott Zielinski thinks differently: "Are we being threatened? No. But it's a 50-50, if they get hit we should help out a little bit but we don't know if it's a set up to get us to fight the war. I haven't heard any facts."
Like so many towns across America, Damascus knows the pain war can bring. A plaque at the town hall honours the fallen of past conflicts. Iraq in particular weighs heavy on people's minds.
Sixteen-year-old Connor Lawlor's ambition is to join the US army, but even he's not sold on striking Syria: "Regardless of me going into the army I don't think we should be in Syria militarily.
"But I'm joining the army and I'm expecting conflict because we're always in a conflict somewhere in the world so it doesn't concern - as long as we're on the right side and I can't see a right side in Syria right now."
His mum Amanda says she's glad that Congress is debating the issue: "It seems like our leaders are trying really hard to make the right decision and not get involved if its not necessary so I'm glad that they're waiting right now because it does seem like a very difficult situation."
Whether people are for or against military action, they share the belief that their opinions hold little sway. Another foreign conflict is looming and there's very little this Damascus can do about it.