U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Saturday said he is concerned about the possible long-term consequences of an American military attack on Syria in retaliation for the Assad’s regime suspected use of chemical weapons.
The senator, a Tennessee Republican, was responding to President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would seek congressional authorization before launching a military strike on Syria.
A press release from Alexander’s office said the senator participated in a briefing by telephone with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper immediately after the president’s announcement.
“Under our Constitution, the president should seek authorization from Congress before his proposed military action,” Alexander said. “I’m concerned about the consequences of a military strike in Syria, and what happens with step two, three, and four after that. There may be a variety of ways, some military and some not, to show our disgust with the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons against its own people. Since the president’s proposed action appears not to be for the purpose of overthrowing the Assad government, during the congressional debate I will assess whether a military strike would do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle Eastern conflict.”
Earlier in the week, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who is also a Tennessee Republican, said he would support surgical air strikes against the Assad government, given the evidence of the regime’s continued use of chemical weapons. But he has urged the Obama administration to first seek congressional authorization. Corker also said he opposes sending American troops to Syria.
On Saturday, Corker said he was pleased by Obama’s decision to ask Congress for approval, and the senator said he looks forward to a vigorous debate.
The president’s decision to announce that he will seek congressional authorization followed several days of faltering support for military action in Congress as well as in foreign capitals, including in Britain, a close American ally, The New York Times reported.
The civil war in Syria is now in its third year and more than 100,000 people have died. There are reports alleging that the Syrian government killed nearly 1,500 civilians in an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.
Still, questions have been raised about what the limited American strikes, which could use cruise missiles against Syrian military targets, might accomplish, and the international community remains divided, with Russia and China rejecting a British-drafted resolution authorizing the use of force again Syria at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported.