Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria
August 25th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
11 months ago

Key U.S. lawmakers: Expect strike in Syria

Updated at 11:48 a.m. ET on 8/25

Washington (CNN) – Two key members of congressional foreign affairs panels say they expect the United States to strike Syria following reports of chemical weapons attacks in that country last week, though other lawmakers interviewed Sunday cautioned that unilateral action would be misguided.

"I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way. Something that gets their attention, that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with that kind of activity," Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

But Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs panel, said President Barack Obama may not need to wait for congressional authorization.

"Congress needs to be involved but perhaps not initially," Engel said. "Perhaps the president could start and then Congress needs to resolve it and assent to it. We cannot sit still. We've got to move and we've got to move quickly."

Another Democrat, however, said the United States should only intervene militarily in Syria with the backing of an international coalition.

“This has to be an international operation, it can’t be a unilateral American approach,” Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We can’t let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for a general military operation in Syria to try and change the dynamic,” Reed said. “That dynamic is going to be long term, very difficult, and ultimately established by the Syrians, not by foreign powers.”

Rep. Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS he didn’t think Americans “have an appetite to put troops on the ground in Syria.”

The situation in Syria escalated dramatically last week after reports the government there used chemical weapons in civilian areas.

Opposition groups say over a thousand people died in the attack with thousands more affected by the gas.

CNN cannot independently verify the causality claims.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister said Sunday that the government will allow United Nations inspectors to visit the site of the alleged attack, but that may be too late.

"If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago. At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible," a senior Obama administration official said Sunday.

Over 100,000 people are estimated to have perished so far in Syria's civil war.

CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.


Filed under: Bob Corker • Syria
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    Remember those "freedom fighters" we supported against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, who morphed into the Taliban and al Qaeda, against whom we went to war which has continued for 10 years? Notice that the major players for the rebels in Syria are Islamists and have links to al Qaeda, which, in the worst way, would love to have its tentacles around any new government in Syria? If we want to take action against governments that harm their own people, we should start with eliminating the GOP from Congress.

    August 25, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. Mark S

    US stay out of Syria. It is a small country and whatever happens there does not effect our national interests. Assad has not attacked the US nor our allies. And both sides hate us anyway. Why do we want to topple Assad only to make Syria another Libya? Why doesn't the oil-rich Arab League take care of their own backyard?

    August 25, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Just Sayin'

    My previous comment is "awaiting moderation"....maybe because it doesn't fit the narrative?

    So...let me get this right. Allegedly there were chemical weapons used in Syria, but there's no proof as to WHO used them and Assad is not "credible" because he was too late to allow the UN to investigate...but "we've got to move quickly" and without Congressional oversight/approval and bomb the **** out of them???

    Seems that some Americans didn't learn anything after that "weapons of mass destruction" fiasco.

    August 25, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Daniel

    Any strike on Syria will light the final fuse of destruction not only for the Middle East but the rest of the World as we know it.
    A strike on Syria will force Assad to use his large scud missiles with Chemical weapons against America's closest ally, Israel. In return, Israel will Nuke Damascus and wipe it off the face of the planet. The political fallout over this will be huge, While Russia, China and Iran mobilze there forces, the rift between Israel and the EU will sore out of control. The UN will quickly devise a 7 year Peace deal for Israel, the EU, Russia and the rest of the world trying to keep from WW3. And that is the beginning of sorrows.

    August 25, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. BCereus

    why is this our problem? I understand what they're doing is wrong, but let the UN pressure them not us! Let russia pressure them, not us! We're still very present in other middle easter countries, we don't need to take on one more headache. It's none of our business. If they wanna roll out a WWIII, then we'll be there, but anything less and it's none of our business.

    August 25, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. Larry

    I think since Putin's Russia is just about what the right wing likes they should all move there. Then they can tell Russia what to do like they do the US here.

    August 25, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Steve

    Why is the United States even thinking of getting involved in the war in Syria? The people over in the Middle East have been fighting each other for thousands of years. There going to keep fighting each other for thousands of years more. There will never be any real peace in the Middle East. There way of thinking over in the Middle East is completely different from our way of thinking. There culture and laws are completely different than the United States. Everything over in the Middle East is based on religion and tribal lands.

    Remember the borders of every country over in the Middle East was made by the Western Powers in Europe. Not by the people that actually live over in the Middle East. The war will cost the United States billions if not trillions of dollars which the United States can't afford to spend. The United Nations needs to show some leadership and take care of this mess.

    August 25, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Steve

    Would make the US cops of the World - Russia won;t let US attack Syria!

    August 25, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Concerned Kansan

    I totally agree with most of the comments, lets stay out of this one for a change...we are broke and can't afford another war....Our reps should not authorize any intervention....

    August 25, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. kevin

    Bring in the drones!!

    August 25, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. jaackblack

    Didn't we hear all this before about Iraq?? More lies from the Obama//Bush admin that will end in misery for thousands of people. Do the American people want another war? NO so what is Obama doing? He's going against the wishes of the people, which is impeachable.
    Not only that, but they're making the decision on a weekend, while no one is watching the news. Criminals.

    August 25, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. ubdumb

    How many countries do you have to bomb to get a second peace prize?

    August 25, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  13. shiloh2000

    It doesn't matter which side is right or wrong in Syria. Anyone who uses chemical weapons must be taken out ASAP. Do it with drones.

    August 25, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. John Ofound

    Why cant syria, israel, saudi araibia, irag, afghanistan, and the rest of the middle east fight there own wars. we dont have the money, time or the right cause to get into another war. Didnt George Washington say to avoid foreign relations in his farewell adress? We can let the middle east be alone. Most of the people there dont even like us, or want our help. Have we not learned anything from Libya? Why should we send people to go and die who don't want to even be there to help people who dont want our help? The answer to our deficit is to get out of all of our wars and to save up our money! If we got out of all of our wars we would save billions of dollars! We cannot afford another war that has nothing to do with us. We did the right thing in world war 2, waiting for the war to affect us (Pearl Harbour) Then taking action because it posed a serious threat.

    August 25, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Mike

    "I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, will ask for authorization from Congress to do something". This from a Republican who complains that the President doesn't cancel his vacation to handle the crisis but Congress, at home doing the all-important reelection fund raising, can't be bothered. Once Congress returns, all the Republicans will do is take the opposite position, irrespective of what the President proposes.

    August 25, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Name Uche Agonsi

    The West should wait for UN Inspectors report, late or not. U S Citizens say NO TO THIS WAR. How does it sound for Obama to win the Presidency under the campaign to return American Soldiers home, only to broaden the war (even potentially) for the Country. The Repubs will not approve any Obama policy than war commitment, even when US economy is suffering. MARK MY WORDS THIS WAR WILL GIVE THE REBUPS OVERALL MAJORITY IN CONGRESS AND LEVERAGE TO IMPEACH OBAMA. Obama must resist every pressure both from home or abroad to enter the commitment. The war would be Obama biggest mistake.

    August 25, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. KellyinBoston

    To suggest that the United States shouldn't try to prevent the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria is shocking to me. This kind of thinking shows a fundamental lack of morality and ethics. We are witnessing the killing of innocents. This is the kind of thinking that suggested that the US should ignore the Holocaust during WWII. I am ashamed that any American citizen could think like this.

    August 25, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. MICHAEL WHITE

    Once again, rush to judgement on the part of the Obama Administration and even many members of congress. What warmongers! I do not believe any piece of evidence or accusations the U.S. makes against Syria. Does the U.S. government ever listen to the American people? I know my comment is another on in the long mix but this is an important question.

    August 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. cnnreader

    The US should stay out. If this so called strike goes forward every lawmaker should be concerned at the next election. This is ridiculous.

    August 25, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. chris wiegard

    the situation in Syria is very complex, and there is no real win-win possibility for the USA. But the chemical weapon issue is not complex. Did Assad use chemical weapons on men women and children in order to reassert control of rebellious suburbs of Damascus. The answer is "yes he did." We have a choice to tolerate the use of chemical weapons or to not tolerate them. Doing nothing is tolerating them.
    The obvious solution is to use cruise missiles to destroy several strategic targets in Syria. No boots on the ground, no pilots in the air, just missiles. It will carry a message to Assad: if you use chemical weapons, you will pay a price that will be high enough that you will lose more than you will gain. That will put an end to the use of chemical weapons. If we do nothing, Assad will simply repeat the use of chemical weapons on another neighborhood. He can play that game for years.

    August 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Tom

    It's ok for 100,000 to die from bullets and bombs, but not 100 from chemicals? Amazing

    August 25, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. lerianis

    Surgical strike is a misnomer when you are using bombs to strike at anyone.

    August 25, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. mike johnson

    ... no US involvement in Syria ... have we lost our marbles? ... again ... there are no US interests at risk and Syria has done nothing to us ...

    August 25, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. Jason

    The war powers resolution says the President may wait to consult congress for 48 hrs after an action. Corker may cork it!

    August 25, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. Robert

    Are you kidding me? Stay out of these wars for God sake!

    August 25, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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