Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.2.13
Conflict in Syria
The civil war in Syria is a tragic situation. This ongoing conflict has now affected the entire region and beyond. Countless numbers of people have left Syria for refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey and over a hundred thousand have been killed. Now there are reports that say the Assad regime employed chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons is unconscionable.
In response, the United States and countries around the world are considering what actions should be taken. Russia and China have made clear that they will block any United Nations action in the Syrian conflict. The British Parliament recently voted to effectively disapprove of action at this time. France backs military action but has no military assets in the area. And on August 31, 2013, President Obama stated that after careful deliberation he believes limited military action is necessary. Furthermore, he said, “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.”
I commend and applaud President Obama for following the Constitution in this instance. No matter what this president and other presidents of both political parties have argued previously, I believe that when one nation uses air, naval, or land forces to inflict damage on another nation by use of force that is an act of war. So to be constitutional, Congress must be involved. The President is doing the right thing in asking for congressional authority. As Commander-in-Chief, the President must now make his case for involving the United States of America in the Syrian civil war.
The questions I must now grapple with are serious and could affect our country’s future. A limited strike as the President has indicated may be appropriate to punish international war crimes by the Assad regime. However, what is our nation’s strategic objective? None of the factions in the Syrian civil war are friends of the United States. What do the Russians do if we attack Assad? Do the Iranians follow through on their threat to attack Israel? If the Iranians attack Israel or the Russians attack American warships, what may have started off as a limited spanking of the Syrians for unconscionable behavior turns into a major international conflict. While I do not favor putting boots on the ground in Syria, we may have no choice but to put boots on the ground if Israel is attacked. Due to the information I have at the time of the writing of this column, these questions remain unanswered.
Speaker Boehner said that Congress will debate and vote on the issue of authorizing military action in Syria the week of September 9, 2013. Between now and then, I will continue to gather information in order for me to try to determine what is the best policy.
Over the next week or so I have a grave and serious decision to make as to what action is in the best interest of the United States long-term. Obviously, I will be seeking guidance and ask for your input and your prayers. I want to hear from you. What do you think? Do you think military action is necessary in Syria? If yes, what type of military action? If no, should any action be taken? In order to receive your timely input, you can call any of my three offices – Abingdon at 276-525-1405, Christiansburg at 540-381-5671, or Washington at 202-225-3861 - or send me an email through my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.