As they did a decade ago, American leaders are contemplating whether to take military action against a regime in the Middle East.
President Barack Obama is seeking authorization from Congress before ordering a possible U.S. strike on Syria, saying it believes the Syrian government ordered the use of chemical weapons on its own people in a devastating Aug. 21 attack that left hundreds dead. Congress will reconvene next week to debate the issue.
Georgia lawmakers currently are divided on whether the United States should bomb suspected Syrian chemical-weapons storage sites.
U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson released statements over the Labor Day weekend in support of a strike.
“It is appropriate for the president to seek authorization from Congress, although I wish he would have called us back to vote on this immediately rather than waiting until Sept. 9,” Isakson said. “I support the use of military action in Syria. If we fail to take strong action against Syria for this horrendous attack, then we are sending a signal to Syria — as well as to Iran and North Korea — that they are accountable to no one.”
Chambliss, vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the president should not have delayed making a case for military action to Congress.
“I believe the evidence is clear that the president’s red-line was crossed long ago, and the United States must respond,” Chambliss said. “However, while I appreciate the president seeking congressional approval, he should have already presented Congress with a strategy and objectives for military action, including what impact this will have on our allies and enemies alike in the region. Leadership is about reacting to a crisis and quickly making the hard and tough decisions. The president should have demanded Congress return immediately and debate this most serious issue.”
Despite Chambliss and Isakson’s hawkish stance on Syria, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., remains cautious.
Kingston held a news conference Monday in Savannah, where he told reporters he wants answers to complex questions before the United States commits to military action.
“Right now, I’m leaning no, but I want to find out how wide of a strike this would be and to better understand the ramifications,” Kingston said. “We know Russia and China will veto this if we go through the United Nations but what would their response be if we strike?”
Kingston, like Chambliss and Isakson, expressed a measure of satisfaction over the president’s efforts to seek approval from lawmakers.
“I look forward to a full debate in Congress and to getting answers to how this would be conducted, what allies would join us, what the rebels’ response would be, what constitutes a mission accomplished and what are our ultimate objectives,” Kingston said.