WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after voting against a resolution in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to authorize the use of military force in Syria. The resolution passed the committee by a vote of 10-7.
The president’s decision to come to Congress was the right one, and I appreciate the great thought and consideration that the Administration has given to our nation’s response to the crisis in Syria. I also applaud Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Corker for leading a quick but inclusive deliberation on the resolution.
Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria is a human rights atrocity and a blatant violation of international law. It’s impossible to see the horrific images of death and suffering in Syria and not feel compelled to act in some way. But there is not always an American solution to every international crisis. For me, today’s vote was a close call, but in the end, I voted no because I believe that the downside risks of military action, both for U.S. interests and the Syrian people, outweigh the potential benefits.
In the short-term, there is little chance that targeted air strikes will destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, and may simply prompt another deadly reaction from Assad as well as the countries that finance his murderous regime. In a highly volatile civil war, the time-limited insertion of U.S. military power has the potential to further destabilize the nation and propel its descent into chaos.
In the long-term, I worry that today’s authorization, which combines authorization for a military strike with support for the lethal arming of the opposition, will involve us in the Syrian conflict in a way that will be difficult to untangle. We are naïve to believe that our support for the opposition, or opposition to Assad, will end in a matter of months. Taking sides in this conflict will likely commit our country to an open-ended engagement, at an untold cost to both our reputation in the world and to American taxpayers.
In the absence of military intervention, I believe that the Administration and Congress should remain focused on increasing humanitarian aid to the millions of innocent Syrians suffering at the hands of Assad, as well as on concerted diplomatic, political, and economic pressure on the regime.