In early September, President Obama announced that he would seek Congressional approval for the United States to use military force in Syria in retaliation to the chemical attack the Assad regime inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Syrians.
I hosted a series of town hall meetings the same week the president made his announcement, and as I traveled from one community to another to listen to the constituents of Oklahoma’s Third District, it was clear they were all but for U.S. military intervention in Syria. In addition to the opposition I witnessed at the meetings, my offices were flooded with phone calls and emails urging me to oppose action in Syria.
As I visited with constituents in the district, I knew the president’s administration would have a very difficult time convincing me to support U.S. military intervention in Syria. However, I felt it necessary to make sure I could see the whole picture of what is going on in Syria, and therefore wanted to attend a classified Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. before making a final decision.
Briefings of this nature, provided jointly by the State Department, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Defense (DoD), and House Intelligence Committee, often provide insight that can clarify many of the questions that must be answered when making decisions of this magnitude. I attended the classified briefing with an open mind, willing to see the overwhelming evidence that would compel me to support military action in Syria. However, this was not the outcome of the briefing. In fact, my reservations with military intervention in Syria were only reinforced, and I felt confident the appropriate course of action for the US at this point was to remain uninvolved.
It became apparent during the briefing that the administration didn’t have a clear plan of action, and couldn’t answer the question of what would happen after a military strike in Syria took place. They were also unable to tell us what they planned to accomplish by launching such a strike, and they remain unable to answer these important questions today.
The president still hasn’t put forth a plan to convince me that our country should get involved in a war in Syria. In fact, now that the president has seen how strongly opposed Americans are to such an idea, he has been trying to find a way to back our country out of a situation he created when he drew a “red line” before consulting Congress.
President Obama has recently embraced the Russian plan that requires Syria to hand over all their chemical weapons to the United Nations. This is nothing more than a diversionary ploy aimed to minimize the political ramifications of the president’s own indecision. This is not a good idea. In 1973, President Nixon almost threw our country into World War III to keep the Russian Army out of the Middle East. Now, in order to create a political escape hatch, the president is willing to have Russia get involved. This causes me grave concern.
President Obama has once again demonstrated poor leadership in the way he has handled the Syrian crisis. He committed our nation’s resources to conduct military action in Syria that the American people never wanted to take. I can assure my constituents of the Third District that I remain opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria, and I will continue to monitor the predicament the president has created.