Thank you for contacting me regarding the ongoing situation in Syria. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.
As you know, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and his oppressive regime have been responsible for the death of over 100,000 Syrian citizens since calls for his removal began intensifying in the spring of 2011. I strongly condemn the regime and all those nations who choose to stand behind Syria’s violent leader throughout this tragic situation.
Our main national security interest in the region must be preventing chemical and biological weapons from ending up in the hands of terrorists. With this said, according to some estimates, at least 50 percent of the various rebel groups fighting the Assad government have al-Qaeda or jihadist elements within them. Therefore, any action that destabilizes the current regime means that chemical weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda, which would be devastating for our interests in the region.
It is essential that the president come to Congress before initiating any military action. The Constitution is quite clear on this (Art. I, Sect. 8), and I believe the president made a big mistake not seeking congressional approval before we took action against Libya. He should not repeat that mistake now. Any efforts we take against Syria must be granted legitimacy by following the Constitution and seeking Congress’ approval.
I support the strictest sanctions possible in order to end the violence in Syria. While I do not rule out limited military involvement as a means to end the violence, this is not a situation in which U.S. strategic interests are directly at stake, and thus we must closely and carefully monitor the developments as they unfold. We must always proceed with extreme caution when putting the lives of our nation’s brave armed service men and women at risk, and always be vigilant against arming foreign combatants when we know little about their backgrounds.