Congressman Jeff Fortenberry opposes a military strike against Syria.
Fortenberry opposes attacking Syria in response to reports it used chemical weapons against its own people.
“It has been my contention and my belief that it is not right to send bombs into Syria,” Fortenberry tells reporters during a gathering in Lincoln.
Secretary of State John Kerrey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska United States Senator, have been making the case before Congress that it is in the national security interest of the U.S. to send a military strike against Syria in an attempt to degrade President Bashar al-Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons.
Reports from Syria indicate the government used sarin gas during an attack in a suburb of Damascus August 21st. The attack killed 1,400 people, including children.
Kerrey has suggested that the United States has a moral imperative to act and that by not acting, the United States will embolden its enemies, including North Korea and Iran.
Kerry has stated, “The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.”
Though Fortenberry says it is outrageous that Assad has used an indiscriminate weapon against his own people, what he calls “an act of savagery”, he objects to the premise upon which the Obama Administration is debating the issue. Fortenberry contends the administration is wasting its time and resources attempting to get authorization from Congress for a cruise missile strike against Syria. He says its efforts would be better spent attempting to reach consensus in the international community on the best way to intervene in the Syrian civil war.
Fortenberry states flatly that this isn’t the United States’ problem.
“This is an international problem. The international community always wants to hide behind U.S. military might. The response needs to be international,” Fortenberry says.
Fortenberry insists Congress is being pressured to back a red line drawn by President Barack Obama. When asked about the president’s insistence that the red line wasn’t drawn by him, but by the international community and Congress, Fortenberry responds that that is “very convenient”.
Fortenberry says the issue has placed a great deal of stress on Congress, which he says is fractured on the issue. The Congressman says that isn’t the case with the public.
“The American people do not want this. They are fatigued by our engagement in these areas where there is no clear outcome and where, over time, things seem to destabilize even worse than they have once there is this type of intervention.”