Iowa political views on a possible attack against Syria (updated)

Several members of Congress from Iowa spoke out about potential U.S. intervention in Syria last week, and Bleeding Heartland sought comment on the issue from the declared Congressional candidates. News clips and the statements I’ve received so far are after the jump. I will update this post as needed. Note: most of the comments enclosed below came before President Barack Obama confirmed on August 31 that he will seek Congressional authorization for a strike on Syria. (He never sought approval for military action in Libya two years ago and he believes he has “the authority to carry out this military action [in Syria] without specific congressional authorization”.)

I am 100 percent convinced that both the House and the Senate will approve the use of force in Syria, perhaps after revising the administration’s first draft, which “is not particularly constrained.”  

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I am no expert on foreign policy or the Middle East, but my gut feeling is that military intervention will not accomplish anything good in Syria. It’s a “tall order” to “mount a limited, targeted, and effective strike that will indeed deter Assad without drawing the United States deeper into the ongoing civil war, causing unacceptable unintended consequences.” By the way, former State Department official William Polk wrote the most interesting analysis I’ve read so far about the situation there.  

Senator Chuck Grassley commented to Radio Iowa on August 29,

“I’m dubious about any move,” Grassley says. “I’m not close right now to the intelligence gathering and what has come out of that so I don’t claim to know as much about it as the president does.”

President Obama said Wednesday the U.S. has conclusive evidence Syria did carry out a poison gas attack last week, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children.

Grassley, a Republican, hasn’t decided if or how the U.S. should react. “I reserve judgment until the president makes a decision,” Grassley says. “I know some legal basis for the international community to get involved because of the violation of the 1925 treaty on banning chemical weapons.”

The president says he’s still considering possible military retaliation to send a strong message to the Syrian President Bashar Assad. In an interview on PBS last night, Obama said: “The Assad regime has been killing its own people by the tens of thousands.” Grassley says the lines of American allegiance are blurred in Syria.

“One of the reasons for being dubious is because the rebel opposition to Assad is divided between those backed by al Qaeda and those that are not al Qaeda-connected,” Grassley says. “We surely don’t want to be helping, in any way, al Qaeda.”

On August 30, Grassley’s office sent out this memo to reporters:

“I met with Iowans in 15 communities this week.  There are a lot of questions about possible military action by the United States against the Syrian government.  Statements today by the Secretary of State and our President are compelling, and there’s no doubt the world community should be united in condemning any chemical weapons attack.  Congress has an important part in reflecting the concerns and views of Americans and should convene to discuss Syria and the role and response of the United States under our tradition of moral leadership as well as what is a national security interest of the United States and what justifies the expenditure of U.S. resources.  I want to know what the goal of the military strike is, how civilian casualties will be avoided, what the strategic plan is, and how we will know if the effort was successful.”

Senator Tom Harkin’s office responded to my request for comment on August 29:

“The violence in Syria is deeply troubling, and my thoughts are with the Syrian people.  While the atrocities are concerning, we must ask ourselves if our country is prepared to enter into a third open-ended war in the Middle East – particularly after trillions of dollars and thousands of lives have been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As we learned from our experience with the rush to go to war with Iraq, perhaps most famously with Colin Powell at the U.N., we should not rush to military action without an understanding of the ramifications.”

Representative Bruce Braley (D, IA-01) released this statement on August 28 (emphasis in original):

“In no uncertain terms, I strongly condemn the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against its own people. These actions, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children, are heinous and reprehensible. Such actions clearly violate the Geneva Conventions and international law.

“An American response to this grotesque act is appropriate. However, Congress should be a part of deciding the proper use of American force and ensuring that, before we take action, there is a plan for the aftermath of any military intervention.

“Congressional involvement not only will add credibility to our actions in the international community, it will send a stronger message to the Syrian regime that America stands united against its despicable acts.

“I stand ready to return to Washington.”

Braley has signed onto a bipartisan letter led by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) that “strongly urges” President Barack Obama “to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of US military force in Syria.”

As of 1pm ET, 69 Republicans and 13 Democrats have signed onto the letter.

A copy of the letter follows.

August 28, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate – and the active engagement of Congress – prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.

Mr. President, in the case of military operations in Libya you stated that authorization from Congress was not required because our military was not engaged in “hostilities.” In addition, an April 1, 2011, memorandum to you from your Office of Legal Counsel concluded:

“… President Obama could rely on his constitutional power to safeguard the national interest by directing the anticipated military operations in Libya-which were limited in their nature, scope, and duration-without prior congressional authorization.”

We view the precedent this opinion sets, where “national interest” is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional. If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute “hostilities,” what does?

If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.

Sincerely,

Rep. Scott Rigell

Rep. Bruce Braley

[Plus 80 other signers, including 68 Republicans and 12 Democrats]

After the administration’s announcement on August 31, Braley’s office sent out this statement:

Congress should be a part of deciding the proper use of American force in Syria and ensuring that, before we take action, there is a plan for the aftermath of any military intervention. I believe the President is making the right decision to seek Congressional authorization before taking any military action in Syria.

“In the coming days, I will carefully review the case for military action in Syria. Before putting American lives at risk and spending millions of taxpayer dollars, we must be confident that any American involvement in Syria serves our national security interests first and avoids getting the United States involved in an open-ended military commitment.

“I urge House leaders to call Congress back into session immediately to debate this important question.”

Representative Dave Loebsack (D, IA-02) provided this comment on August 29:

“The reported use of chemical weapons against civilians is morally reprehensible and should be unequivocally condemned by the international community.  However, after more than a decade of war during which time our troops and military families have made great sacrifices on our behalf, we must exercise extreme caution in undertaking military action.  I do not support boots on the ground or unilateral action. Congress has a Constitutional role to play in approving use of military force and any action must be fully debated and considered.  The Administration must clearly make the case to the American people, lay out strategic reasoning behind military action, clear national security reasoning for such action, and an end goal for potential use of force.”  

Loebsack’s office sent out this press release on August 31:

Washington, D.C.  Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today following the President’s speech on the situation in Syria.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Loebsack has received a briefing from the White House regarding the ongoing situation.

“I have called on the President to seek congressional authorization but more importantly, before any action is taken, the administration must make the case to the American people and the American people must support it. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was briefed by the White House and believe the Administration must lay out their strategic reasoning behind military action, define the national security reasoning for such action, and establish an end goal for potential use of force.

“The use of chemical weapons against civilians is morally reprehensible and should be unequivocally condemned by the international community. However, after more than a decade of war during which time our troops and military families have made great sacrifices on our behalf, we must exercise extreme caution in undertaking military action.”

Representative Tom Latham (R, IA-03) sent out this press release on August 28:

LATHAM JOINS BIPARTISAN EFFORT URGING PRESIDENT TO SEEK CONGRESSIONAL INPUT, APPROVAL BEFORE ACTION ON SYRIA

Amid reports that the United States is preparing to use force against Syrian military targets in response to an alleged chemical attack on civilians by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham has joined a bipartisan group of U.S. House colleagues asking President Barack Obama to “consult and receive authorization from Congress” before moving forward. The letter to the President urges him to ensure that the division of executive and legislative war powers under the Constitution is properly considered and honored in making any decision about military involvement in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

Latham had this to say about the issue and the letter Wednesday:

“If the President believes that action is necessary, then he should call on Congress to reconvene, debate, and vote to authorize the use of force. Running an end-around around the House, the Senate and the American people is not the right approach, and one that I hope the administration would not take. Attacking another country without full consideration of whether military force is appropriate to reach the goals we hope to achieve is misguided. Congress should be involved in considering the facts and making a determination before the United States commits military assets to hostilities in Syria.”

The full text of the letter, being circulated by Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell, is printed below.



Dear Mr. President,

We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

While the Founders wisely gave the Office of the President the authority to act in emergencies, they foresaw the need to ensure public debate – and the active engagement of Congress – prior to committing U.S. military assets. Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.

Mr. President, in the case of military operations in Libya you stated that authorization from Congress was not required because our military was not engaged in “hostilities.” In addition, an April 1, 2011, memorandum to you from your Office of Legal Counsel concluded:

“…President Obama could rely on his constitutional power to safeguard the national interest by directing the anticipated military operations in Libya-which were limited in their nature, scope, and duration-without prior congressional authorization.”

We view the precedent this opinion sets, where “national interest” is enough to engage in hostilities without congressional authorization, as unconstitutional. If the use of 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 704 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 42 Predator Hellfire missiles expended in Libya does not constitute “hostilities,” what does?

If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request. We stand ready to come back into session, consider the facts before us, and share the burden of decisions made regarding U.S. involvement in the quickly escalating Syrian conflict.

Sincerely,

Latham further commented to Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson,

“At this point the president has not made the case that it’s necessary,” Latham says. “He should come to congress if he believes it is. I do not believe the United States should be injecting themselves in a civil war, which is a sectarian war, and I have not heard any kind of an end game or what the purpose is.” […]

“It is our duty, I think, to approve something like this if in fact it is justified and at this point I don’t think it is justified,” Latham says. “I’ve heard no evidence coming out of the White House to understand why it would be necessary to do this.” […]

“Chemical warfare is an atrocity, I understand that,” Latham says. “But, in fact, why we’re injecting ourselves in a civil war – the case has not been made.”

Latham supported U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The world believed with Iraq that they had weapons of mass destruction and that they would use them. In Afghanistan, obviously, was where 9/11 came from. There was clear justification in Afghanistan,” Latham says, “and I just don’t think the case can be made with Syria that it is a threat to the United States itself or its citizens.”

I did not receive any response or press release on this issue from Representative Steve King (R, IA-04). King didn’t sign the open letter signed by Braley and Latham, but he did tell the Omaha World-Herald last week,

“It sounds as though the president is determined to kill some Syrians to send the message to Assad to stop killing Syrians,” King said in an interview.

He said he wasn’t questioning the authority of the president to take action, but he said Obama would be better off bringing his case to Congress first.

All of the five Democratic candidates to succeed Braley in IA-01 responded to my request for comment on August 30. Taking them in alphabetical order, former State Senator Swati Dandekar sent me this response (emphasis in original):

“The use of chemicals weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated by the United States or by any civilized country.  Any leader who will use chemical weapons against his own people poses a grave threat to his neighbors.  While the United States cannot police the world, it has a moral obligation to prevent the use of such weapons and to ensure our allies in the Middle East that we stand with them against such tyranny.  President Obama is the Commander in Chief, and in the end he will have to make this very difficult decision.  I support his thoughtful approach to this extremely serious problem and his understanding of our country’s role in maintaining stability in the Middle East.”

State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic sent me this comment:

Having experienced the atrocities of civil war first hand, I can relate to the horrendous situation the Syrian people are going through. I especially feel for the innocent children stuck in the middle of this barbaric conflict, because I experienced it in Bosnia and wish to spare any child in this world from going through what I went through. I condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government, this despicable act committed against innocent civilians is nothing short of horrific. I am of the thought that if the U.S. proceeds with a plan to intervene in Syria with the use of force, the President should first and foremost seek Congressional approval before acting. I also believe that the U.S. should not act unilaterally, but alongside a coalition comprising our allies in the international community. Furthermore, having experienced war first hand, I am under the conviction that we must absolutely first exhaust any and all diplomatic efforts before involving the U.S. in another costly foreign conflict.

State Representative Pat Murphy’s campaign sent me this response:

Given the information that we have and understanding members of Congress and the President have more intelligence on the matter. Pat condemns the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government on the Syrian people. Pat would support appropriate actions to try and stop this.

Pat supports sanctions on the Syrian Government. Pat also supports limited strategic strikes as long as the strikes are limited to military targets and that we ensure no civilians or civilian buildings are put at risk. He doesn’t support any strikes on the buildings manufacturing the chemical weapons, because an accident there could lead to serious problems.

Pat does not support putting troops on the ground and thinks President Obama should seek approval from congress before he puts any troops on the ground.

Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien commented,

While I am outraged at the use of chemical weapons by Syria, this is not a situation where the United State should take unilateral military action.  Syria has not directly attacked U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  All countries should be outraged by the conduct of the Syrian government and it should be a coalition of countries that responds.  Since the purpose of any military response is to express wide-ranging outrage at the reprehensible Syrian conduct the President should seek Congressional approval before taking such action.  A unilateral attack to express broad outrage is counterintuitive.

I received this comment from Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon:

I mourn for those who have died and been severely injured in Syria and my heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones.

I do not support unilateral military action in Syria at this time. A decision to take military action should never be taken lightly. All of the evidence must be examined closely and thoroughly.

I believe that the President should seek Congressional approval before the Administration embarks on any such action.

As for the Republican candidates in IA-01, I haven’t received a statement about Syria from Steve Rathje, but his rival Rod Blum posted this status update on Facebook on August 28:

If I was your Congressman, I would stand up to the President and oppose getting our military entangled in Syria.

As we’ve seen far too many times, our friends today can quickly turn into our foes tomorrow. While the current regime is clearly in the wrong, the rebel forces are infiltrated by Al-Qaeda, and I believe intervening in yet another country’s civil war is not worth risking the lives of the brave men and women in our armed forces.

I have not heard back from Mark Lofgren, the only declared GOP challenger to Loebsack in IA-02.

Both of the Democratic candidates in IA-03 responded to my request for comment on August 29. Taking them in alphabetical order, former State Senator Staci Appel responded,

Intelligence reports indicating that the Assad regime used chemical weapons is unconscionable. However, any US response should be carefully considered and done in concert with our international partners. The United States most not go it alone or act unilaterally, nor act without Congressional advice and consent. In addition, any action, should be narrow in scope and have a clear mission with a specific end that prevents a long term US military involvement in a civil war.

Gabriel De La Cerda responded,

As a candidate for US Congress I have watched the news reports coming out of Syria with a heavy heart. The choices we make moving forward as a country are wrought with danger and peril, for both action and inaction.

The POTUS has signaled that he is close to making a decision on how to respond to the apparent Chemical weapon attack by the Syrian regime, one which targeted rebels and civilians alike.

With this statement, the Do Nothing Republican wing of congress has decried the POTUS for coming to any decision without their consent or consultation. They have levied this criticism all while enjoying the comforts of a five week vacation.

Congressman Latham stated recently,

“At this point the president has not made the case that it’s necessary. He should come to congress if he believes it is.” – http://www.radioiowa.com/2013/…

If Congressman Latham were truly worried about the events of the day, he would take charge and use his nearly 20 years of tenure to call his good friend, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and urge him to recall congress to Washington DC, so that they can add their voices to the decision-making process.

They could use the same urgency that was harnessed when sequestration was threatening flight delays. They should be doing work!

Instead we the American public are left with Monday morning Quarterbacks and the politics of derision.    

I have seen the unedited Youtube videos which graphically depicted the absolute horrors of Chemical Warfare. We as a people must hold those who have used such weapons of terror responsible. We must also hold our elected officials responsible for pointless lip service, when it is leadership and action which are required.

Our Constitution demands that our Congress once again embraces its role in our democracy and finally relinquishes the blanket of lethargy. Iowans and the American people can no longer abide a Congress full of Do Nothings. The Generations wanting to do work will no longer sit idly by. Those willing to do work are coming.

King’s Democratic challenger in IA-04, Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, provided the following comment on August 29:

“Reports of Syria’s Assad regime using chemical weapons is both unacceptable and a war crime. A united and limited international response is crucial but the United States most not go it alone or prematurely. Congressional advice and consent should be a precursor for any offensive military action and measures taken should be of a narrow scope, with a clear mission endstate, that limits long term US military involvement in a civil war.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chair A.J. Spiker and Co-chair David Fischer sent an open letter to the president last week. Fischer is a possible GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate. You can read the full text of the letter from Spiker and Fischer on the Washington Times website. Excerpts:

President Obama: We oppose the president beginning another war by bombing Syria. As fathers we believe our children’s lives are worth far more than the price you’ll pay for admitting you’re wrong when it comes to dragging us into war in Syria. We believe the prosperity of America’s next generation is worth more than profits for defense contractors and the bump in the polls you and your fellow politicians may receive from portraying yourselves as wartime leaders.

We’ve been at war for over ten years now, costing us trillions of dollars and resulting in the death of thousands of American soldiers and untold numbers of civilians. Many of those who survive come home with debilitating injuries, strained families, and emotional scars.

[…]

Syria is mired in a dangerous civil war and while the news of the conflict there is troubling, it does not present a threat to American security. In fact, American intervention is likely to make things worse and create new enemies. Some intelligence reports even indicate the rebel forces you’re contemplating helping may actually be made up of Al-Qaeda itself.

There are few things in politics that actually bring Amerians together, but 90% of Americans oppose a war in Syria. […]

Even if you somehow support using money we don’t have to unnecessarily send our troops into harms way again, the decision to take the country to war rests with the Congress, not the President. It wasn’t long ago that as a U.S. Senator you stated, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” We couldn’t agree more, Mr. President, and if you want to take us to war you need to honor your oath to the Constitution and go to the peoples’ representatives in Congress for a declaration of war.

Of the declared Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, I have not seen any comment about Syria from Grassley’s former chief of staff David Young, former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, State Senator Joni Ernst, or former Congressional candidate Paul Lunde. I was most surprised by Ernst’s silence to date, since her military background is her campaign’s big selling point so far.

Whitaker hinted at his position by re-tweeting this comment from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz: “Brief taped remarks at a photo-op is no substitute for real consultation with Congress and the American people. #Syria”

Sioux City-based college professor Sam Clovis posted this status update on Facebook on August 28.

Under no circumstances should the US President take action in Syria without consultation with Congressional leadership from both sides. He should be willing to articulate the objectives, the strategy and the end game desired and the metrics to know when the endgame has been achieved. In addition, the US should focus on our national interests and take appropriate action to defend those interests but those interest do not include anything inside Syria.

UPDATE: Four of the Republican Senate candidates provided additional comments on Syria to The Iowa Republican blog. As of September 3, Clovis would not vote to authorize a military attack on Syria, but if Obama “were to make a compelling case that such actions would support our interests in the region, then I might be willing to support those actions.”

Ernst said “the president and his administration have yet to provide the American people with a compelling case for use of American military force in Syria.” She added that she is “disappointed by the irrational and inconsistent approach taken by the president,” but also said,

Any use of chemical or other weapons of mass destruction by governments or terrorist organizations simply cannot be tolerated. If intelligence exists that unequivocally demonstrates that Assad or his regime launched such an attack on his own people, they should be forced to account for their actions.

Whitaker would not vote to authorize the use of force “[b]ased upon the publicly available information I have seen,” adding that Obama “has handled this situation poorly by putting himself in a box.” Whitaker further stated,

I do not believe striking Syria is in our strategic national interest. While the use of chemical weapons can never be condoned, the United States would be setting a terrible precedent.  It should not be our policy to intervene in every conflict where chemical weapons have been used.

Young commented that he “would first need to know all of the facts, have a clear understanding of what the objectives are, what is the capacity of the U.S. military to achieve those objectives, what is the U.S. exit strategy, and what are the benefits and costs of the military options.”

SECOND UPDATE: I only sought comment from candidates for federal office, but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Krause posted his thoughts about intervention in Syria over the weekend.

It is time to applaud #Obama for deciding at the last minute to go to Congress before intervention in #Syria. I have consistently opposed #Syrian intervention. But if there is an intervention, going through Congress is crucial. Some form of national consensus has to be developed, either for or against intervention, and we are not there yet. Going through Congress will help, and a final vote will give clarity to any actions taken or not taken.

I sincerely hope that Congress will vote “No” on intervention. War is an ugly thing. I am saddened by the thoughts that many women and children died in a gas attack. It is a particularly nasty and non-discriminatory form of warfare.

However, for the past several years I have been talking about the 800,000 living US veterans that are affflicted with #PTSD, and the 250,000 veterans of the current warrs that have #TBI. Even minor #TBI can lead to #Alzheimers disease, and many of these US veterans will die from early-onset Alzheimers. This does not include the KIA’s, the suicides, the walking scar-tissue burn victims, the amputees, or the families that suffer through their loved ones.

Frankly, we have done a crappy job of dealing with these people. We ignored them after Vietnam, and we give very reluctant and inadequate support today. Some of this is the result of bad planning during the Bush Administration. The VA became overwhelmed with a wave of needs that everyone knew was coming but nobody planned for. The Obama Administration dramatically increased VA funding, and would likely have increased it more had not the mood of Congress shifted on spending. But it still caught in the immense wave of pent-up demand.

And now, the Federal sequestration cuts impact psychiatrically war-damaged veterans on the edge by reducing housing assistance that many rely on; by driving off skilled civilian medical personnel in the Defense Department, and impacting in many other ways.

As the visibility of our current wars fades with time, I anticipate that this trend will continue. America will do what it has in the past, and gradually defund the programs that these injured war vets rely on. Damages to the brain are invisible to the naked eye, and those that have been damaged by #TBI or #PTSD often become reclusive. They are easy to overlook.

So, do I want to intervene in Syria? No. Proper responses to treaty obligations on Chemical Warfare need to be worked out and I am sure there are many bright minds that are working on a full menu of responses. And, if the President and Congress tell the military to do intervene, it will without question. But will our citizens remember those US service members that may have psychiatric or mental damage and continue to remember them for the next 70 years? Will they grieve for those lives that were changed for the worse, forever?

Probably not.

THIRD UPDATE: The Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth wrote about King’s strange silence on September 4:

Well into the week after a long holiday weekend in which the major international topic involved whether the U.S. military would get involved in Syria, U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, still has not released a stance from his office on the nettlesome issue.

That’s a surprising development, since King is usually ready to weigh in on a wide variety of national topics. He’s a hawk on defense, and points to his many trips to Iraq and Afghanistan for having informed his positions in supporting those wars.

Radio Iowa’s O.Kay Henderson reported from a Braley event in Adel on September 5,

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley is “leaning against” a congressional resolution authorizing a U.S. missile strike against Syria. […]

Braley said it’s “clear war crimes were committed” and the international community needs to hold Syria’s dictator responsible, but “there are ways to do that without military intervention,” according to Braley.

“I’m not going to support any action until I know that it is in the best, long-term interest of the United States and that bar for that support is very high right now,” Braley said.

In the summer of 2011 Braley voted against U.S. military action against Libya’s dictator, saying the U.S. could not afford it. During an appearance today in Adel, Braley said he “fears” the U.S will be “drug into a long-term conflict” in the Middle East if the U.S. goes ahead with military strikes into Syria.

“When you see the threats coming out of Iran, when you see the threats that are coming from Hezbollah which is aiding the Syrian regime and its attack against the rebels and you see some of the uncertainties about who is allied with the rebels – including those affiliates with Al Qaeda, it is a quagmire,” Braley told Radio Iowa. […]

“Clearly based on the personal feedback I’m getting and what my staff is receiving, it is overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. military action in Syria at this point,” Braley said during the interview with Radio Iowa.

SEPTEMBER 6 UPDATE: Democratic candidate Dave O’Brien released this statement.

Dave O’Brien opposes military action in Syria

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Dave O’Brien, candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 1st District, released the following statement today stating his opposition to U.S. military action in Syria and questioning State Rep. Pat Murphy’s quick decision to support military involvement in Syria.

“I am outraged by Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own citizens and greatly saddened by the loss of life.  President Obama was right in seeking Congressional approval of any military intervention. This is not, however, a situation where the United States should respond with military force.  Syria has not directly attacked U.S. citizens or U.S. interests. The evidence presented by the Obama Administration that Assad used weapons of mass destruction is overwhelming.  The evidence presented supporting strategic justification for U.S. military action has not met that standard. Absent compelling evidence that military intervention will serve the future strategic interests of the U.S. and our allies in the region I must oppose a military strike.”

“I’m surprised and perplexed that State. Rep. Pat Murphy supports bombing Syrian military targets without Congressional approval. Apparently, Rep. Murphy thinks the president should only seek congressional approval to put troops on the ground in Syria.   I disagree and I think most Iowans disagree with that approach too.”

Background:

Murphy supportive of Syrian military strikes. Earlier this week the Murphy campaign released a statement saying:

“Given the information that we have and understanding members of Congress and the President have more intelligence on the matter. Pat condemns the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Government on the Syrian people. Pat would support appropriate actions to try and stop this.

“Pat supports sanctions on the Syrian Government. Pat also supports limited strategic strikes as long as the strikes are limited to military targets and that we ensure no civilians or civilian buildings are put at risk. He doesn’t support any strikes on the buildings manufacturing the chemical weapons, because an accident there could lead to serious problems.

“Pat does not support putting troops on the ground and thinks President Obama should seek approval from congress before he puts any troops on the ground.”

[BleedingHeartland.com, 9/3/13]

  • Interesting

    Thanks for this comprehensive diary, DMD.  Some of these responses were very surprising, especially Pat Murphy’s.

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