Metro-east lawmakers urge caution on air strikes against Syria

News-DemocratSeptember 3, 2013 


Democratic and Republican members of Illlinois' Congressional delegation have said they will not fully support President Barack Obama's call for air strikes against Syria until they get more information and see a clear-cut plan for military intervention.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, has been a strong supporter of Obama, a fellow Democrat, in the past. But Durbin voiced reservations about supporting Obama's use-of-force resolution against the Syrian government in retaliation for a nerve gas attack that is said to have killed more than 1,400 Syrian civilians.

Durbin, the Senate assistant majority leader, called the nerve gas attack "a moral outrage," and said the civilized world "must now decided how to respond."

But Durbin, in a written statement, declined to state if he supports Obama on the issue of military strikes against Syria. Durbin noted the United States is winding down its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars whose combined cost "has been overwhelming" in human lives and treasure over the past 12 years.

"If we can do something to discourage Assad and others like him from using chemical weapons without engaging in a war and without making a long-term military commitment of the United States, I'm open to that debate," Durbin said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, the state's junior senator, issued a statement calling Obama's plan to defer to Congress "the right decision," adding that he "would oppose any resolution that authorizes boots on the ground in Syria" but would "support a narrow authorization for a missile strike targeting those responsible for using chemical weapons and deterring future use of such weapons."

U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, issued a statement after receiving a classified briefing Sunday from national security leaders. Enyart also expressed reservations about potential U.S. military action in Syria.

Enyart, who retired last year with the rank of an Army major general after serving as commander of the Illinois National Guard, said that after "two costly and prolonged wars, there is very little tolerance for another U.S. military operation by the people of Southern Illinois or by my colleagues in Congress," Enyart said. "If President Obama believes action is needed, he must lay out a convincing case to the American public first."

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said in a written statement that he is against U.S. military action and that a limited attack would make matters worse.

``Until I see evidence of a real threat against the United States or our allies or unless the international community reaches a consensus and leads, I am not convinced that a limited strike against Syria at this time is warranted,'' he said.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he would oppose supporting the use-of-force resolution until Obama laid out a clear plan of action for dealing with the Syrian regime.

"I will tell you, I don't think the President has sold the reason why we have to take military action to the American people," Davis said.

Davis attended three Labor Day events Monday and he heard from the crowds the refrain, "Don't go into Syria," he said. "Which tells me the President needs to do a better job of letting the American people know why he needs the authority to go into Syria and complete the military action."

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Tuesday morning that he supports Obama's call for military intervention in Syria.

"This is something that the United States as a country needs to do," Boehner said after a White House meeting with Obama. "I'm going to support the president's call for action, and I believe my colleagues should support the president's call for action."

Do you agree with the state's congressional delegates on use of force in Syria? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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