Following President Barack Obama’s call for congressional approval of military action in Syria, the response by U.S. representatives from Georgia has been divided.
U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss have voiced support for using force following an alleged Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack attributed to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
“Based on available intelligence, there can be no doubt the Assad regime is responsible for using chemical weapons on the Syrian people,” Chambliss said in a news statement. “It is time for the United States to act in a serious way, and send a clear message to Assad and his allies that the world will not tolerate chemical or biological attacks. Continuing to do nothing is not an option. Short of putting troops on the ground, I believe a meaningful military response is appropriate.”
Isakson said he was disappointed Congress was not asked to return to vote before the start of session next week.
“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,” he said in a news statement. “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.”
However, lawmakers who represent portions of Cobb County have expressed doubt the move would further U.S. national security interests.
In a statement from the office of U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), the congressman praised Obama’s seeking congressional approval.
However, “while the use of chemical weapons is intolerable, the United States must not get mired down in the Syrian civil war,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) also expressed doubt in the authorization of force.
“President Obama imposed his self-determined ‘red line’ over a year ago warning Syria that action would follow the use of chemical weapons. He then ignored the use of those same weapons this past spring,” he said. “While we condemn the horrific murder of innocent people within Syria, the United States must determine whether or not our national security interest is best served by military intervention.”
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-south Cobb) further questioned the logistics of such a strike in an open letter to the president last week.
“More answers are needed before U.S. resources, both personnel and funding, are spent on another Middle Eastern conflict,” Scott wrote. “Americans want clarity in understanding the reasons that action would need to be taken. They also want to hear the overall strategy and goals of a military campaign so that they can have confidence that the wise decisions have been made and that our allies have been fully engaged.”
Elsewhere in Georgia, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) — who, like Gingrey, has announced a bid for Chambliss’ seat following the senator’s planned retirement next year — also said he’s leaning against taking military action.
“Right now I’m leaning no — but I want to find out how wide of a strike this would be and what would be the ramifications of it,” he said Monday.
“We know Russia and China will veto this if we go through the United Nations, but the question is, ‘Well, what are you going to do if we strike?’ Because you know, are they going to sit there passively and say that’s OK? I don’t think that will be the case.”