Each week until the Va-10 congressional district Democratic Party primary election on June 12, The Blue View will ask all six candidates to respond to a key question on an important issue in 100 words or less.
This week’s question: Under what circumstances should we withdraw from Syria?
Answers below from candidates, in alphabetical order:
The question needs to be, how should we intervene? Regime change in Iraq, Egypt, and Libya led to unstable countries, theocratic governments, and the growth of terrorist cells. Chemical weapons’ use is unacceptable, but our focus needs to be on providing humanitarian aid, protecting refugees, and working with the international community on targeted sanctions and diplomatic efforts. We should be cautious about investing U.S. treasure and blood into another middle eastern conflict where it remains unclear whether the government opposition will be any better than the current regime. We must also ensure that any military effort is approved by Congress.
The Trump Administration has made a difficult situation worse through their disdain for expertise and facts. As a candidate, I don’t have access to the intelligence sources and military professionals needed to responsibly answer this question, but as a former diplomat I know they are there and I’m concerned that this President is driving them away. ISIS must be defeated and we cannot be drawn into another nation’s civil war. In a functional Congress, I would ask the tough questions that would help us make an informed, measured decision with the input of the intelligence, military, diplomatic, and global communities.
The situation is Syria is unequivocally a humanitarian crisis which we should work to stop. However, the U.S. troops in Syria are there without a clear strategic goal and without an express Authorization for Use of Military Force. Without an AUMF, we should withdraw troops from Syria. If the President believes that our armed forces should be deployed, he should request an AUMF from Congress. For too long, Congress has abdicated its Constitutionally mandated responsibility. Politicians have allowed the Executive branch to overstep its bounds for far too long, and it’s time for Congress to reclaim its duty.
Absent authorization from Congress, we should withdraw from Syria immediately because the mission appears to have expanded beyond the scope of the original deployment of a small number of special force troops to combat ISIS in 2015. We now find ourselves directly engaging with Iranian, Russian and Syrian troops both on the ground and in the air, with potentially cataclysmic results. Congress must do its job and declare our troops presence in Syria a violation of the War Powers Resolution. We simply cannot keep troops fighting in Syria without authorization and without a strategy.
I believe that the situation in Syria needs to be approached with a careful diplomatic hand. Under current conditions, I would not recommend that we withdraw entirely from Syria. I would instead push for a stronger partnership with our regional allies and work to provide stability in the area.
The situation in Syria is both complex and volatile. The Assad regime is guilty of horrific war crimes against its own people and we cannot allow actions like that to become globally acceptable. Additionally, the United States cannot afford to allow Syria to become a failed state or a place for non-state actors to use as a home base for terrorist operations. However, we cannot allow ourselves to become bogged down in an endless war with unclear metrics of success and no exit strategy that will take an enormous toll on our soldiers and our Treasury. Any Syria policy needs not only to receive Congressional approval, but also to balance these important interests to the United States and broader regional and global security.
Next week’s question: As a member of Congress, what would you do to improve transportation infrastructure in northern Virginia?
Compiled by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, a member of the Dranesville District Democratic Committee and Virginia Democracy Forward. A former columnist and recipe editor for The Washington Post, she now writes a weekly column for mylittlebird.com.