Washington: US lawmakers appeared divided today over a possible military strike on Syria as debate over the issue entered a Congressional committee of the US House of Representatives.
"We`re all troubled by the unfortunate lack of international support. Although the proposed action aims to uphold an international norm, there is no United Nations resolution of support, nor NATO backing," Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said during a Congressional hearing on Syria.
"As we`ll hear today, the President views striking the Syrian regime as a way to strengthen deterrence against the future use of chemical weapons by Assad and by others. That is an important consideration," he said adding that there are too many bad actors out there.
"Countries like Iran are watching. And yes, a credible threat is key to putting the brakes on Iran`s nuclear programme. There are concerns. The President promises a military operation in Syria of limited scope and duration. But, the Assad regime would have a say in what happens next. That would be particularly true as President Obama isn`t aiming to change the situation on the ground," he said.
An influential leader of the opposition Republican party, Royce alleged the Obama Administration`s Syria policy doesn`t build confidence.
"For over two years, US policy has been adrift. Initially, the Obama administration saw Assad as a reformer. Once the revolt started, it backed UN diplomacy, and then it bet on a Moscow policy and the thought that Russia would play a constructive role. Predictably, that has not worked,? he said.
In a statement, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said he would vote against any resolution approving America`s military engagement in the Syrian conflict.
Noting that the American people are war weary, he said the US should not engage in conflicts around the world unless they directly affect the US national security.
"This is not the case with Syria. Both sides of the Syrian conflict are dominated by forces opposed not only to American interests but to American values. For those who say we should intervene against Assad because he`s a dictator, we should have learned our lesson in Iraq, which cost us the lives of 6,000 Americans and tens of thousands wounded, not to mention a trillion dollars added to the debt that hangs around the necks of the American people," he said.
"Even worse, those we sacrificed for are not grateful. Getting involved in Syria would be even worse because it would indicate we haven`t learned our lesson. America should not retreat from the world, nor can we police the world. Our military should not be engaged in any way in the Syrian conflict," Rohrabacher said.
Chairman emeritus of the Foreign Relations Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said the US has been aware of Assad`s chemical weapons stockpile for years, yet the US has failed to hold him accountable.
"The United Nations has been completely useless at effecting any change in Syria, thanks in no small part to Russia and China`s persistent stonewalling at the Security Council," she said.
Ros-Lehtinen said Iran and North Korea are carefully watching the next move.
"If we say that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, yet we fail to act, this will embolden Iran`s pursuit of nuclear breakout capabilities," she said.
"A refusal to act in Syria after the president has set such a clear red line will be seen as a green light by the Iranian regime, who will see that we don`t have the will to back up our words," she said.