Earlier this week, President Obama addressed the nation on why he believes American military intervention may be necessary in Syria. I strongly disagree, and would oppose authorizing an attack by the United States against Syria.
I simply cannot support a unilateral strike in the Middle East with no clear military objective or vital national security interest at stake.
The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians is deplorable. But the use of these weapons alone, after more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in a two-year-old civil war, does not warrant American intervention that could incite further chaos in a part of the world that is already on the brink.
Military commanders, both past and present, have warned of the potential ramifications for U.S. military engagement:
Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid. And James Mattis, retired CENTCOM commander and four-star Marine general, cautioned that if Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war."
The last thing this country needs is to get mired down in another countrys civil war where the lines are blurred between friend and foe. Let us not forget that the Syrian opposition contains factions of insurgents with known ties to al-Qaida and are sworn enemies of the United States.
I am pleased that the president has temporarily postponed his call for Congress to authorize military force and has instead decided to pursue other alternatives. The Russian proposal to address Syria through diplomatic negotiations should be thoroughly explored. Whether or not this becomes a reality, the door has now been opened for the international community to express support for a diplomatic solution. By so doing, our country can avoid an ill-advised military strike.
Over the past few weeks, I have received thousands of phone calls and emails from people in Sarasota and Manatee counties expressing their grave concerns about American involvement in Syria. A common refrain is that America can no longer afford to serve as the worlds policeman. I couldnt agree more.
Too many Americans remain unemployed at a time when our debt and deficits continue to skyrocket. We have plenty of needs here at home that demand our attention. Attacking a Middle East country that poses no threat to the United States is not one of them.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., represents Congressional District 16. He is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and House Subcommittees on Trade and Health.