Should US act on Syria? Local lawmakers split

With rumblings of the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Syria in the wake of its suspected chemical weapon attack against its own people, local congressmen’s opinions are split on what to do.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Marino, R-Cogan Station, said with the current information, he is against U.S. involvement with Syria.

“Given the information at hand, I am absolutely opposed to any intervention in Syria at this time. There are too many bad guys on both sides of the conflict and any U.S. involvement would be at odds with our interests in the region,” Marino said. “We have far greater priorities at home and in other nations to embroil our resources or troops in the middle of a conflict with no end in sight.”

Marino said the present situation requires the president to consult with Congress before authorizing military force.

“The Constitution clearly separates war powers between the executive and legislative branches, granting Congress the explicit authority to declare war and the president the authority to act only in cases of imminent danger,” Marino said.

Once the president has an explicit plan detailing the scope and parameters of the mission, Congress can review and, if necessary, authorize it, he said.

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, also is against an intervention as the situation stands. Like Marino, he wants a clear plan and congressional consultation.

“Absent an imminent threat to our national security, I do not support military intervention in Syria. Should the president believe the situation in Syria poses such a threat, it’s imperative that he make the case before Congress so that elected representatives have an opportunity to put any action to a vote. At this point, it remains unclear as to what goals intervention would achieve,” Thompson said.

However, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, sees the Syrian regime as an imminent threat to national security, and so calls for immediate military action. He has supported an intervention since last year.

“I think we should take action now,” Casey said. “I don’t think the Iranian regime or Hezbelloh are some far-off enemy; they are plotting every day to kill Americans. They will be successful if we let them. We can’t let our guard down.

“The question is, how are we going to keep them from taking action against us today, tomorrow and next year?”

Casey hopes a series of air strikes of short duration will be targeted toward destroying airplanes on the ground or runways, as he said Syria’s power is largely from its air superiority.

Beyond the short-term air strikes, he supports ensuring the end of the Syrian regime, which could be done via supplying arms to Syrian opposition. He believes the vetting process will prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, agrees the apparent use of chemical weapons demands the U.S. act.

“These weapons and his (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s) behavior pose a national security risk to the U.S. This calls for an American response, being mindful to avoid a long-term military engagement in the Syrian civil war,” Toomey said. “The president must explain to Congress and the American people the objectives and risks of any action.”