Sanders Statement on Syria

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders issued the following statement today on President Barack Obama’s request for Congress to authorize military strikes against Syria:

“I intend to keep an open mind with regard to the president’s proposal on Syria but at this point I have serious reservations.  These reservations are shared by many Vermonters who are calling my office – the overwhelming majority in opposition to our involvement in the Syrian civil war.  I think we all understand that Assad is a ruthless dictator and that his use of chemical weapons is abhorrent and a violation of international law. Many Vermonters, however, worry that our involvement in a third Middle East war in 12 years may make a very bad situation even worse. 

“Here are several concerns that I have.

“First, the truth is that a largely dysfunctional Congress has difficulty today focusing on the very serious issues facing our country: the disappearing middle class, high unemployment, low wages, the high cost of college, the decline of our manufacturing sector and the planetary crisis of global warming. I fear very much that U.S. involvement in another war in the Middle East, and the cost of that war, will make it even harder for Congress to protect working families.

“Second, as someone who voted against the war in Iraq, I worry that while the president talks about ‘surgical strikes’ and a limited engagement by our military, there is no doubt that many members of Congress support ‘regime change’ in Syria and much deeper involvement. If that policy prevails, there is no question that it could cost tens of billions of dollars and the possible future involvement of American troops.

“Third, I am concerned that the United States would be going into a war almost unilaterally without the support of the United Nations or NATO. If we are concerned about international stability, this sets a very dangerous precedent that other countries could use in the future.”