While there are concerns over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime use of chemical weapons to kill nearly 1,500 of the country’s citizens, some Democrats remain reserved over U.S. use of military action in response.
“I am deeply concerned by the use of chemical weapons in Syria against innocent people,” U.S. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in a statement, “but after over a decade of war in the Middle East, there needs to be compelling evidence that there is an imminent threat to the security of the American people or our allies before any military action is taken. I do not believe that this situation meets that threshold.”
Manchin urged President Barack Obama to “immediately call Congress back to Washington and engage in a serious debate on this issue before any military action is taken.”
Obama announced Saturday he is ready to order the use of limited military force against the Syrian government. The president made it clear that he didn’t need congressional approval to use military action, but that he is seeking its OK as part of a democratic process.
Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina agreed that Obama “is correct” that the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons requires a military response. In a joint statement, however, the two senators said they cannot in “good conscience support isolated military strikes” that aren’t part of an overall strategy to remove Assad from power and end the conflict.
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“Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing,” the senators said. “And it would send the wrong signal to America’s friends and allies, the Syrian opposition, the Assad regime, Iran, and the world -- all of whom are watching closely what actions America will take.”
The House of Representatives is prepared to consider military action the week of Sept. 9. Meanwhile, here is a sampling of what other U.S. lawmakers are saying about it on Twitter:
Corker: “[I]t is imperative that [Pres. Obama] immediately begins using every ounce of his energy to make his case to the American people.”
â€” Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) August 31, 2013
â€” Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 31, 2013
"Launching an attack on Syria requires serious deliberation in Congress because of the potential consequences." http://t.co/eXmD4cUKcI
â€” SenatorSusanCollins (@SenatorCollins) August 31, 2013
I stand behind @BarackObama's call for Congressional authorization and targeted and limited military response to Assad's atrocities.
â€” Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) August 31, 2013
Similarly supportive of Obama’s approach was U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who tweeted:
I understand and support Barack Obama's position on #Syria.
â€” David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 31, 2013
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin had this to say in a question-and-answer session with journalists: “I would first and foremost address [Barack Obama] not as my colleague, not as the president of the United States and the head of state, but as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. We need to remember what happened in the past decade, and the number of times the United States initiated armed conflicts in various parts of the world. Did this resolve even one problem?”
France’s position with respect to holding Assad responsible apparently hasn’t changed, either. On Friday, BBC News reported these words of French President Francois Hollande: “Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France. ... But there are few countries which can have the capacity of enforcing any sanction through the appropriate measures.” And he added: “France will be part of it. France is ready.”