So I figured I would conclude my day of diaries before my vacation on an issue everyone's discussing here with one of my favorite incumbents running for re-election next year:
A week after a chemical attack on civilians that United Nations inspectors say could have been the work of the Syrian government, Alaska's congressional delegation is urging the Obama administration to proceed with extreme caution in any possible intervention in the Middle East.
”In Syria, I don't want to see American troops on the ground,” Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said outside a speaking engagement in Fairview. “We're just coming out of two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever response there is, it has to be an international response, which includes China, it includes Russia… but we can't be putting American troops on the ground again in another war.”
Syria has been embroiled in an ongoing civil war since March 2011, as civil opposition to the Bashar Assad-led government grew throughout the country as part of the region-wide Arab Spring. Syria shares borders with Israel and Iraq. With continued unrest in Egypt, intervention in Syria is understood to have far-reaching ramifications throughout the region.
On Wednesday, Begich wasn't alone in wishing to avoid American involvement there. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) said in a statement: “We cannot ignore the unthinkable horror of using chemical weapons... however... I do not support U.S. military intervention in Syria’s civil war. After a dozen years, the American people are sick and tired of sacrificing lives in foreign wars."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) deemed a response more urgent. “No one wants a repeat of what we saw in Iraq, but the U.S. and its allies are in a situation where we must respond,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. - KTVA 11, 8/28/13
Begich also had this to say:
“They cannot go down this path without consultation and engagement with the Congress,” he said Tuesday on the public radio program “Talk of Alaska.”
But that may happen. Strikes could begin any day – and Congress is not due back in Washington until September 9th. Begich said he can’t support the actions if the United States acts alone.
British and French leaders have indicated they’re willing to support the military strikes.
“It can’t be the U.S. carrying the weight of the world all the time. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and others in that region need to step up to the plate,” Begich said. “It means other countries around the globe, and this includes people like Russia and China, they need to step up, and quit playing the politics of the Middle East for leverage for their own political and economic purposes.” - Alaska Public Media, 8/28/13
Glad to hear Begich say this and I applaud him for his stance. Both Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama will be briefing Congress on what's going on. But again, I'm happy to hear Begich voice his opposition and I can't blame him:
The evidence of a massacre is undeniable: the bodies of the dead lined up on hospital floors, those of the living convulsing and writhing in pain and a declaration from a respected international aid group that thousands of Syrians were gassed with chemical weapons last week.
And yet the White House faces steep hurdles as it prepares to make the most important public intelligence presentation since February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a dramatic and detailed case for war to the United Nations Security Council using intelligence — later discredited — about Iraq’s weapons programs.
More than a decade later, the Obama administration says the information it will make public, most likely on Thursday, will show proof of a large-scale chemical attack perpetrated by Syrian forces, bolstering its case for a retaliatory military strike on Syria.
But with the botched intelligence about Iraq still casting a long shadow over decisions about waging war in the Middle East, the White House faces an American public deeply skeptical about being drawn into the Syrian conflict and a growing chorus of lawmakers from both parties angry about the prospect of an American president once again going to war without Congressional consultation or approval. - New York Times, 8/29/13
And President Obama has yet to make a decision about what to do:
“We have not yet made a decision but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place,” Obama said in an interview with PBS Newshour.
"If we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, 'Stop doing this,' this can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term," he added.
The United States has been debating how to respond to an attack last week in the suburbs of Damascus that killed hundreds of people – an attack Obama said was carried out by the government.
“Nobody disputes -- or hardly anybody disputes -- that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in Syria against civilian populations,” the president said. “We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed … chemical weapons of that sort.” - NBC News Hour, 8/29/13
We shall have to see as the news develops. But you can add Begich's opposition to war with Syria as another key reason to help him get re-elected. Especially since the GOP is already gearing up for a new round of attacks:
It isn’t bad enough that the Outside interests are coming after us on Alaska TV, radio, and the Internet? Now they’re going to be ringing your phone, too.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC for short) is robo-calling thousands of Alaska families. And they’re trying to smear my record of being a strong, independent voice all across the 907.
This is just the latest in a long string of Outside interest attacks against me in Alaska. And we only have a few days left to meet our $15,000 August fundraising goal to fight back. Chip in $5, $10, or whatever you can today:
This is the second week in a row they’re calling Alaska homes -- most likely right when you’re sitting down to dinner, or in the middle of your favorite TV show. And if you don’t pick up, they leave one of those voicemails, made to sound like someone you know.
I don’t know how long exactly these Outside guys plan on bugging Alaskans, but it doesn’t change the truth: Like the Washington insider group funding these calls, the recording on the other end of the line doesn’t care about Alaska families.
I’m proud of my record as an independent voice for the people of Alaska. And I need you guys to help me fight back against this new attack.
We need to respond by hitting our $15,000 fundraising goal in the next 2 days. Contribute $5 today:
Thank you for your support.
You can click here to donate to Begich's re-election campaign:
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