Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Roberts, Jenkins remain opposed to military strike against Syria

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

After meetings on Tuesday with the White House, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, both Republicans from Kansas, reiterated their opposition to using the military in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria.

After President Barack Obama met with the Senate, Roberts said, "This past month at home, not a single Kansan told me they supported military action in Syria."

And Roberts said he didn't believe a diplomatic proposal involving Russia and the United Nations to have Syrian President Bashar Assad give up chemical weapons was credible.

“There is nothing I trust about the U.N., Russia or the Assad regime," Roberts said. "By offering this diplomatic path, we are simply providing a delayed mechanism for the president to pursue his goal of a military strike when the regime does not comply. At that time, I believe Kansans, and all Americans, will feel the same as they do today: opposed to military strikes in Syria.”

Roberts also criticized Obama, saying Kansans "are discouraged, concerned and disgusted with the lack of leadership within the administration. I share all of these sentiments. The actions displayed by the president and the secretary of state do not inspire confidence."

He said Obama was seeking a pause in a congressional vote on possible military action because the president knows it wouldn't pass. In a national TV address, Obama said a pause was needed to give diplomacy a chance.

But Obama said it was in the U.S. national interest to make sure tyrants aren't emboldened to use chemical weapons, such as poison gas.

"When with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act," he said.

Jenkins, whose district includes Lawrence, said after meeting with Vice President Biden at the White House that she remained against military action and hoped a diplomatic option would work.

"I remain unconvinced that military action against Syria is in our nation's best interest," Jenkins said.

In earlier statements, all of Kansas' congressional delegation opposed U.S. military intervention in Syria, except U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita.