Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, voted today to approve a limited use of force for a limited period of time in Syria to deter the future use of chemical weapons. After days of briefings and hearings, Senator Cardin continues to believe that the recent use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians cannot go unchallenged; however he does not support sending U.S. military forces for combat in Syria. The authorization approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today will be considered by the full Senate next week.
“America does not want to go to war. Congress has no intention of authorizing a war, let alone another long and costly war in the Middle East. The evidence presented to our committee, which has been backed by numerous sources, makes it clear that President Assad has perpetrated grave crimes against humanity. Assad’s blatant use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria flies in the face of the rules of war and, for the sake of America’s national security and the stability of the region; we cannot turn a blind eye to this heinous act.
“The authorization our committee approved gives the President the authority he needs to take limited action in response to the Assad regime’s illegal use of chemical weapons. It also sends a strong signal to rogue actors around the globe—from Tehran to Pyongyang- that we will not tolerate their belligerence. America’s allies and friends in the region- including Jordan, Israel and Turkey- must know that we are serious about protecting our shared national security interests. Inaction would simply bolster those who wish to lash out and do harm to us.
“I did not take this vote lightly. Any time Congress is asked to authorize the lethal use of our military, it is a weighty and heart-wrenching decision. During our deliberations, I argued that we needed a tailored mission that deals with the chemical weapons threat and I pushed for language to specify that that Congress in no way intends to send American troops into Syria. The Senate resolution language is especially clear on this last point. I also noted that our mission should be carried out in a way that protects civilians as best possible, and it must be for a limited duration.”