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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Smith against military action in Syria

  • Eighth District U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, on Tuesday announced that he would vote against using military force in Syria.
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  • Eighth District U.S. Rep.  Jason Smith, R-Salem, on Tuesday announced that he would vote against using military force in Syria.
    This comes after President Barack Obama charged Congress with deciding on whether or not to act against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of using chemical weapons against his own people in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
    During an interview with The Leader-Journal on Monday afternoon, Smith was en route to a meeting to hear from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry.
    At that time, Smith had already expressed concerns about the Syrian conflict.
    "I’m going to wait until I personally and directly ask (Kerry and Hagel), but it's going to take a lot to change the way that I'm leaning, and I have serious concerns about putting our men and women in to harm's way," Smith said.
    On Tuesday, Smith was apparently not convinced.
    “America’s goal in any war should be to win. To date, President Obama has not been able to adequately define what victory would look like in military conflict with Syria," Smith wrote in a guest column in the Southeast Missourian newspaper.
    "The best picture painted by the Obama administration appears to be that of a stalemate. If the administration cannot define victory to the American people, to military leaders or to the troops who will be charged with striking Syria, then we should not use military force.”
    On Monday, Smith said the consensus of his constituents was a resounding "no" in regards to American presence in Syria.
    In fact, the numbers were nearly 100 to one in opposition to using military force.
    "It's pretty astounding," Smith said. "It's a pretty sound message with the evidence from people watching TV and in the media. People are not in support of it and they have their concerns."
    Smith admits he appreciates that Obama has deferred to Congress in the matter.
    "Chemical weapons (are) horrendous," he added. "We shouldn't be the police for the whole world. Unless we see the whole world doing it, I don't think the United States should be leading on that. I think we need to make sure the facts are not conflicting before we send our men and women into harm's way.
    "I think the other countries in the world are seeing conflicting evidence, and that's why you're not seeing our allies getting out there. Assad is definitely not a friend to the United States – there's definitely not a question about that – but there are a lot of people that haven't been friendly to us."
    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, has a different opinion.
    Page 2 of 2 - Blunt calls Assad’s chemical attacks "abhorrent" and supports the president's condemnation of said actions, but he does not support the president's original plan, according to a press release from Blunt's office.
    “It is clear that the administration’s policies toward Syria have not worked. The refugee problem has destabilized the region, and the addition of outside radical groups increases the likelihood of long-term danger for Syrians and their neighbors," the release stated.
    “I respect the president’s responsibilities as commander in chief. In this case, the president has asked the Congress to support very specific tactics and strategies. He has asked Congress to endorse a ‘shot across the bow’ and has said that Assad will stay in place while a political solution is sought ... After careful consideration and a number of briefings on this topic, I believe this strategy and the unknown response it may provoke are the wrong thing to do, and I will not support the resolution the president has asked for.”

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