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Smith Report 9.19.2013

Syria is Not America’s Fight

In the last few weeks my office has been flooded with phone calls, letters, emails, Facebook messages and tweets from families in our Eighth District who are opposed to American military action in Syria. During that same time I have questioned the Obama Administration and participated in a classified briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to learn more about the Syrian civil war. Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that I will vote no on any resolution granting President Obama the authority to use military force in Syria.

As your voice in Congress, I want to share the reasons behind my decision to not support American military action in Syria.

1. President Obama has not been able to define victory. America’s goal in any war should be to win. To date, the Obama Administration has not been able to adequately define what victory would look like in military conflict with Syria. The best picture painted by the Obama Administration appears to be that of a stalemate.

2. President Obama has not been able to answer critical questions raised by myself and others about military involvement in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is no friend to the United States, but would striking his government make the Middle East even more unstable? We do not know if the rebels fighting Assad would be our allies, we do not know if they will respect Israel’s right to exist, if they will tolerate Christians and we do not know if the rebels will defend American interests. If military force is so urgent, where are our allies and why have they not committed to use military force?

3. President Obama has simply not made the case that attacking Syria is in America’s best interest. The President is requesting military action but he has not made a compelling case for our nation’s security interests.

4. Finally, and most importantly, families in our Eighth Congressional District are nearly universally opposed to the United States becoming involved in Syria’s civil war. Over the past few weeks my office has received hundreds of calls, letters and emails urging me to vote against the resolution. You have spoken, and I have listened.

Because victory cannot be defined, because Syria poses no direct threat to the United States, because the American people do not have answers as to what would happen in the Middle East after a use of American force, because our allies are not using force and because my constituents do not want to get involved in a prolonged military conflict, I will vote against authorizing military force in Syria.