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. Brian Phaneuf

    Like it or not, this is a sovereign nation's internal battle. No proof so far as to who is using the chemical weapons, but the official view is "let's kill someone".
    How many members of the Congressional Foreign Affairs panel will send their sons or daughters over to give them "boots on the ground", or to perform "surgical strikes"? Euphemisms of course for someone ending up screaming their life out while laying disemboweled in the dirty street.
    Stay out of it...as harsh as that sounds...it is a domestic problem and not one threatening international stability, yet.
    A nation's Foreign Affairs Branch is supposed to gauge support in foreign nations for commerce, trade, and development...not bang war drums which result in nothing but even more destruction.
    Of course, as a Canuck I have no direct stake in this but I still miss my friends who fell in Afghanistan...U.S. Marines sent off by their so called "superiors".

    August 25, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. joe d

    its time to lay the pipe, off shore guided missile cruisers just sitting waiting to be scrapped without ever being used in anger. this is about to change. the hammer is coming ! lets show the iranians, the russians, hezbolla, and the rest of the world the real power in the world. u.s. combat power. first and for front and second to none. they all need to see our real power from time to time just to remind them we are the real power.

    August 25, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. w l jones

    I start ...but no fight. Said enough.

    August 25, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. Ray E. (Georgia)

    this here feller wants to get right on this here issue, as soon as he comes back from vacation in a month. He's some feller!

    August 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Bricks

    The US and world needs to go in there and remove Assad out of power. Why did we remove Saddam out of power then? It wasn't for 9/11 and they claim it wasn't for oil so what for? Since the first Gulf War Saddam didn't do anything yet the US government went after him. There were repercussions from removing Saddam too just like there may be in Syria. It's the exact same, not different. By removing Saddam we strengthened Iran but did it anyway. We need to remove Assad too.

    August 25, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. David M

    Absolutely not. We have nothing to gain. No one in Syria likes the US, but they do like our money. Let them fight it out. Let other mid east counrtries deal with it, or the EU if they have developed a backbone yet. The US has absolutely no business going there, especially to put troops on the ground. Not ten cents worth of munitions should come from the US.

    August 25, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Bricks

    @ mike johnson – No US interests in Syria? What about democracy, when did that not become a US interest? youre not really a mike johnson, probably an iranian, shia syrian, lebanese, or arab christian

    August 25, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Moe

    If the Syrian government didn't do it why stall the UN inspectors, what possible gain would they have? Wouldn't they want them in fast to find evidence that the rebels did it as they claim?
    Assad thinks he would gain by using chem weapons because he stupidly thinks that he can trick people into thinking the rebels did it, so he can demonize them and get the world on his side. it isnt working.

    August 25, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. PaulaRoz

    Stay out of Syria. We don't need any more Americans dead or the American economy ambushed.

    They are going to do what they want to, just like Vietnam and Iraq. We can’t miraculously re-form the Middle East to your liking.

    August 25, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Jack

    Russia won't let the US attack Syria? Russia isn't gonna do anything. The Russians are going to help out the Chinese in the East to limit US influence there, and will continue to resist US influence in former Soviet nations but thats it. Syria is a lost cause for the Russians and was very misplaced, what they shoulda done was get involved in Egypt on the side opposing Mubarak. Egyptians will or should remember it was the US that propped up Mubarak, a dictator whos been stealing resources and monopolizing the economy with his family.

    August 25, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. gary

    Mistake for US to strike in Syria.

    August 25, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Harry Cline

    Here we go again.

    Can't provide jobs for our own citizens but plenty of resources to throw out the back door.

    August 25, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  13. T Bone and Ice

    This is one of those times where it is best that we stay out of this Syrian conflict. We have a damn deficit here. We cannot afford to go deeper into debt. Our government has its priorities screwed up. It needs to take care of its own first. Fix the mess right at home before spending our money where it should not be wasted.

    August 25, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  14. George

    How many countries can a president bomb before he has to return his Nobel Peace Prize? This is a trick question.

    August 25, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  15. Larry L

    How many American families are willing to sacrifice their loved ones for the people of Syria? How many Americans really know where Syria is located? Exactly why is this America's problem to handle without an international coalition AND funding from the Arab states?

    This is about the Jewish lobby in the U.S. and our perceived need to protect Israel. Its time for the Mid-East to solve their own problems. America desperately needs a rapid (and painful) transition to alternative energy sources.

    August 25, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Freedom Fascist

    Stalingrad baby! Let's go America, couldn't handle a couple of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and you think you going to beat China and Russia? lol, you're about to be duly paid back america, can't wait!

    August 25, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. J

    Team America: World Police! Also, no, I don't agree with what the regime is doing there. But I don't think America should be the only country to do something about it. I agree that an internation coalition should be formed to take care of the situation, and take care of it as quickly as possible. Those at the top need to keep politics out of it and only take into consideration the effects the regime is having on the local population. We're already $5trilion in debt because of a lie from a past president (referring to weapons of mass destruction @ PresBush).

    August 25, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. TexanYahoo

    I cannot believe the "compassionate" Americans as they like to call themselves, want to sit by after seeing the images of gassed woman and children? Its the right thing to do to strike Assad (with unmanned cruise missles, for gods sake!), and strike him very hard to punish, and to deter him and Iran, N.K, etc.

    August 25, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. Bazinga

    this deserves reposting:

    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 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    USA should stay out of this one...let them fight it out if necessary. Please do not send our American Men and women into Syria. Let them solve there own problems!

    August 25, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  21. dft

    American should stay out of Syria and let the people of that country handle it!

    August 25, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  22. Ward Cleaver

    there's no such thing as "proportionate" and "surgical" because there will be retaliatory strikes followed by escalation and the drum beat throughout the Arab world and Iran will start slowly but will ring out with "Death to the US" a familiar rhyming sound until they need foreign aid.

    August 25, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  23. ok-thnx-bye

    So, I see how this will play out...we help remove Assad from power, "democratic" elections take place, fundamentalist Islamists will gain office, we will come back in 5 years to finish the job Assad started...rinse, repeat...

    August 25, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. flight prop

    USA should stay out of this mess. Let the Syrians take care of it!

    August 25, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. Michael Enfield

    If Obama initiates another, unilateral, preemptive, act of war, like so many of his executive branch predecessors have, he's
    constitutionally illiterate and flagrantly, politically hypocritical!

    August 25, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
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