Five Democrats running for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 1st District have, for the most part, been singing in unison, but there’s some dissonance in their responses to the developing situation in Syria.
In nuanced responses to President Obama’s request for congressional authorization to use military force against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons on Syrian citizens, four of the five Democratic hopefuls expressed outrage and were generally supportive of a multi-nation military action.
Only Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien, who called attacking Syria “counterintuitive,” ruled out a military response
Friday, he said he was “surprised and perplexed” that Rep. Pat Murphy would support a military strike without authorization from Congress.
“Apparently, Rep. Murphy thinks the president should only seek congressional approval to put troops on the ground in Syria,” he said. “I disagree and I think most Iowans disagree with that approach too.”
Murphy fired back, saying he was disappointed O’Brien chose to politicize the issue, adding, “I fully support President Obama’s move to get approval from Congress and the American people before acting.”
Although the evidence presented by the administration is overwhelming, O’Brien said, “Syria has not directly attacked U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.”
“Absent compelling evidence that military intervention will serve the future strategic interests of the U.S. and our allies in the region I must oppose a military strike,” O’Brien said. “This is not, however, a situation where the United States should respond with military force.”
However, Murphy called a military response appropriate.
“The use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on its own people and the appropriate response is a moral issue, not a political one,” Murphy said. “Like many Americans, I believe a response to this act is appropriate.”
In statements released this week, the other 1st District Democrats were conditionally supportive of the president’s proposed military response.
“While the United States cannot police the world, it has a moral obligation to prevent the use of such weapons” and stand against such tyranny,” said former state lawmaker Swati Dandekar of Marion. “I support his thoughtful approach to this extremely serious problem and his understanding of our country’s role in maintaining stability in the Middle East.”
Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo, who fled war-torn Bosnia with her family while a child, and Cedar Rapids business owner and City Councilwoman Monica Vernon opposed unilateral action.
“Having experienced war firsthand, I am under the conviction that we must absolutely first exhaust any and all diplomatic efforts before involving the U.S. in another costly foreign conflict,” Kajtazovic said.”
“A decision to take military action should never be taken lightly,” Vernon said. “All of the evidence must be examined closely and thoroughly.”