February 11, 2016

Latham says Obama hasn’t “made the case” for strikes into Syria

Congressman Tom Latham — a Republican from Clive — and Congressman Bruce Braley — a Democrat from Waterloo — both say President Obama should get congressional approval before launching an attack on Syria. However, Latham would likely vote against military intervention in Syria.

“At this point the president has not made the case that it’s necessary,” Latham says. “He should come to congress if he believes it is. I do not believe the United States should be injecting themselves in a civil war, which is a sectarian war, and I have not heard any kind of an end game or what the purpose is.”

On Wednesday Latham and Braley signed a letter calling on Obama to get congressional authorization before launching any military strikes into Syria. Latham says congress should quickly reconvene and consider the issue if an attack is imminent.

“It is our duty, I think, to approve something like this if in fact it is justified and at this point I don’t think it is justified,” Latham says. “I’ve heard no evidence coming out of the White House to understand why it would be necessary to do this.”

Rebels have been fighting against the Syrian government for two and a half years, but reports of a chemical attack on civilians in a rebel-held neighborhood in Syria last week seem to mark a turning point in how the U.S. and other key allies view the situation.

“Chemical warfare is an atrocity, I understand that,” Latham says. “But, in fact, why we’re injecting ourselves in a civil war — the case has not been made.”

Latham supported U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The world believed with Iraq that they had weapons of mass destruction and that they would use them. In Afghanistan, obviously, was where 9/11 came from. There was clear justification in Afghanistan,” Latham says, “and I just don’t think the case can be made with Syria that it is a threat to the United States itself or its citizens.”

Braley issued a statement Wednesday saying he “strongly” condemns the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government against its own people and “an American response to this grotesque act is appropriate.”

Congressman Dave Loebsack — a Democrat from Iowa City — told The Des Moines Register that if any action is taken in Syria — whatever that may be — there has to be international support. Loebsack also said President Obama “needs to inform Congress fully” of the options under consideration.

Congressman Steve King — a Republican from Kiron — told The Omaha World Herald “it sounds as though the president is determined to kill some Syrians to send a message to (Syria’s president) to stop killing Syrians.” However, neither King nor Loebsack signed the bipartisan letter questioning the president’s authority to launch an attack.

Senator Chuck Grassley suggests an international treaty on the use of chemical weapons is legal basis for the “international community” to act in Syria. Grassley said he is “dubious” about U.S. military strikes into Syria, however, because al Qaida is fighting with the rebels. Senator Tom Harkin calls the chemical weapons attack “concerning,” but Harkin wonders if the country is prepared for another war in the Middle East.

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