APA Members of Congress Urge Caution on Military Action Against Syria

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WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to take a vote on President Obama’s call for military action against Syria, Asian Pacific American legislators, including Iraq War veterans Tammy Duckworth and Tulsi Gabbard, are making their opinions known.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Syria is undergoing a humanitarian crisis.  While the United States cannot stand by as innocent civilians are being massacred, it’s my responsibility as a member of Congress to make sure we don’t commit resources, the most precious of which are our men and women in uniform, with no comprehensive plan for our involvement.

“While I support the president’s authority to initiate action since he was elected by this nation and in light of the divisiveness in Congress today, I will have tough questions for the administration should they intervene prior to congressional approval.

“In the days ahead I will be seeking more information from our military and intelligence communities.  But until I feel it’s imperative to our national security, I will not support pre-emptive intervention in Syria.

“America shouldn’t bear the burden unilaterally, especially since none of our allies, including those in the region, have committed to action.

“It’s military families like mine that are the first to bleed when our nation makes this kind of commitment.  It’s my obligation to make sure our government honors our troops willingness to sacrifice when we make such a decision.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “The use of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction is atrocious and violates international norms and basic human rights. The challenges faced by U.N. weapons inspectors as they gather evidence has only exacerbated this conflict that has gone on for too long, with countless innocent casualties.

“Right now, we do not have enough facts about all facets of what is occurring on the ground, the factions involved in this civil war, and what the unintended consequences would be for U.S. military involvement.

“Congressional debate and approval must occur before any U.S. military action is taken, and through this process we need to have a clear-eyed view of our objectives and what the outcomes would be, understanding the impacts in Syria, and those that extend far beyond Syria.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “The atrocities that have been documented in Syria over the past 11 days are nothing short of horrific and I stand with President Obama and the international community in condemning the use of chemical weapons.

“I applaud the president for seeking congressional authority for a limited military strike against Syria and believe that Congress should only take action when it is full informed.

“I plan to return to Washington later today [Aug. 31] to attend a classified briefing for members of Congress and will review the administration’s evidence thoroughly.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “The Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons is an atrocity deserving of universal condemnation. A tyrant who commits these unspeakable acts against his own people must be confronted by the international community.

“We need a robust debate in Congress – one that weighs the consequences of potential actions and keeps America’s best interests at heart. My top priority in the days to come is to deliberate on the facts as we know them, and deliver a vote for the best course of action for the American people and the world.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “The evidence is apparent: the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people in blatant and horrific violation of international law, human rights, and moral decency. I join my colleagues, the international community and the American people in strongly condemning the horrific acts the Assad regime propagated against its own people.

“The decision to take military action can never be taken lightly. It is imperative that the administration presents a strong, clear case to the American public, and provides specifics to Congress before any action is taken.  I was pleased that Secretary [John] Kerry addressed the public today and that the administration released unclassified intelligence it has gathered about the Assad regime’s actions. 

“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past by failing to fully consider and understand the costs, risks, and geopolitical implications of such actions. Any American military intervention against the Syrian government must have clear objectives and a clear timeline, and this information must be relayed to Congress and the American people.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “I applaud the president’s decision to seek congressional approval before ordering military action against Syria. This is the right thing to do, and I’ll be listening closely as the president makes his case to Congress.”

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “I condemn the use of chemical weapons and look forward to a safe and thorough United Nations investigation at the site of the alleged attacks, along with a full report to the international community. The world has a moral obligation to pursue an appropriate response to any use of these inhumane and illegal weapons. There is no place in any conflict for chemical warfare.

“However, the United States must remain cautious and pragmatic in our response.  Faulty intelligence on WMDs drew us into a bloody struggle in Iraq. The last decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated what comes of war waged with poor planning. We cannot haphazardly enter another conflict with a sovereign nation.

“Questions still remain about the identity and intentions of the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime, and I believe we need clear answers before moving forward.  It is my hope that President Obama will consult with Congress and other key stakeholders before taking action in Syria.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “Like all Americans, I am deeply disturbed by the significant evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians. I am pleased that the president will seek congressional authorization before committing to use any U.S. military force against the Assad regime. I believe such authorization is required by the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution when there appears to be no imminent threat to American citizens or assets.

“Any failure by the international community to strongly condemn these crimes against humanity could have dire consequences for the people of Syria, our allies in the region, and for the legitimacy of international law. However, I believe the precedence that will be set by engaging Syria militarily without the support of the United Nations, or at least an alternate coalition demonstrating an international consensus, would be problematic.

“As Congress begins to debate and consider the proposed authorization for the use of military force submitted by the administration, I fully expect the president to continue to engage the members of the United Nations and our allies in order to achieve an international consensus supporting any action.”

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