U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Saturday said he was pleased by President Barack Obama’s decision to ask Congress for approval before launching a military strike on Syria, and the senator said he looks forward to a vigorous debate.
Although he opposes sending American troops to Syria, Corker has 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.
“At this point in our country’s history, this is absolutely the right decision, and I look forward to seeing what the administration brings forward and to a vigorous debate on this important authorization,” said Corker, a Tennessee Republican and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “Further, now that the president has decided to use force and seek authorization, it is imperative that he immediately begin using every ounce of his energy to make his case to the American people.”
This week, Corker has participated in a conference call with senior Obama administration officials regarding evidence of the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical weapons, and he has received a separate classified briefing from the administration that was also about intelligence on Syria, the senator’s office said.
“While I’m opposed to American boots on the ground in Syria, I would support surgical, proportional military strikes given the strong evidence of the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical warfare,” Corker said in a press release on Thursday. “Whatever limited action is taken should not further commit the U.S. in Syria beyond the current strategy to strengthen the vetted, moderate opposition. While the administration has engaged in congressional consultation, they should continue to be forthcoming with information and would be far better off if they seek authorization based upon our national interests, which would provide the kind of public debate and legitimacy that can only come from Congress.”
Obama’s decision to announce Saturday 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, but the divided international community has been unable to take significant action to stop the bloodshed.
On Monday, Corker said the congressional role in U.S. military force has too often been abdicated to presidential authority.
“The American people deserve to hear more from the administration about why military action in Syria is necessary, what it will achieve and how it will be sufficiently limited to keep the U.S. from being drawn further into the Syrian conflict,” Corker said.