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Rep. Paul Ryan comes out against Syria strike

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Frank Schultz
September 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Paul Ryan came out Wednesday strongly against President Barack Obama's plans for a limited military strike against Syria.

Ryan, R-Janesville, had previously taken a wait-and-see stance on the president's request that Congress approve a strike in retaliation for Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons in that country's civil war.

“I believe the president's proposed military strike in Syria cannot achieve its stated objectives,” Ryan's statement reads. “In fact, I fear it will make things worse. The president says a show of force will preserve our credibility. But a feckless show of force will only damage our credibility.”

The 1st District representative continued: “The events of this week have reinforced our credibility gap. After making the case for a firm, rapid response, President Obama has called for an indefinite delay. He lacks a clear strategy, and now he's following Russia's lead.

“Syria's civil war isn't our fight, but we have a stake in the outcome,” Ryan said. “The best punishment for (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's war crimes is for the moderate elements of the opposition to prevail. But the President's ill-conceived, half-hearted proposal will do little to help. It will make America look weak when we need to be strong.”

Ryan's office did not respond to the question of what course of action should be taken.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, meanwhile, opposes a military strike in Syria, while Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wants to maintain a credible threat to force a political solution, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. opposes a go-it-alone approach. Their recent statements:

-- Johnson, quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday—Johnson said he believes the president has the authority to approve military action against Syria regardless of what happens in Congress.

“Let's push the opportunity we have right now on the diplomatic front,” Johnson said, referring to the Russian plan to have Syria turn its chemical weapons over to international control.

Johnson said he hoped for a negotiated settlement to the war is Syria that will replace Assad with a coalition government, adding: “We don't want a failed state in Syria.”

--Pocan, in a statement Wednesday—“I am pleased that, as many of my colleagues and I have advocated, the United States has joined the international community in working together on a response to the situation in Syria that will avoid a military strike and achieve the necessary goal of removing chemical weapons from the hands of the Syrian government. …

“I am hopeful that we come to a resolution that demonstrates the power of a united global response.”

-- Baldwin, in a Senate floor speech Tuesday—“The President made the right choice to seek Congressional authorization for any potential military action in Syria. … We must demand that all presidents—not just this president—come to Congress to get approval before taking military action in another country in instances where we are not facing an imminent threat. …

“I strongly believe that our response to this situation must not be a unilateral military action. This is not America's responsibility alone. And it is not in our interest to set the precedent that is our responsibility alone. Syria violated international laws and should be held accountable by the international community.”



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