House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) backed a limited military intervention in Syria on Tuesday, moments after meeting with President Barack Obama and other congressional leaders at the White House.
“I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria,” Cantor said in a statement. “While the authorizing language will likely change, the underlying reality will not. America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States.”
Full statement below:
“I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria. While the authorizing language will likely change, the underlying reality will not. America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States.
“Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action, and I hope he is successful in that endeavor.
“Bashar Assad’s Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism, is the epitome of a rogue state, and it has long posed a direct threat to American interests and to our partners. The ongoing civil war in Syria has enlarged this threat.
“The Syrian conflict is not merely a civil war; it is a sectarian proxy war that is exacerbating tensions throughout the Muslim world. It is clear Iran is a principal combatant in this conflict, and its direct involvement is an integral part of Iran’s bid to establish regional hegemony. Were Assad and his Iranian patrons to come out on top it would be a strategic victory for Iran, embolden Hizballah, and convince our allies that we cannot be trusted.
“Furthermore, sectarian tensions and extremist terrorism are already spilling over beyond Syria’s borders, with terrorist attacks and assassinations on the rise in neighboring countries. It is not just an abstract theory that the Syrian conflict threatens the stability of key American partners in the region. It is a reality.
“Beyond the obvious regional interests, a failure to adequately respond to the use of chemical weapons and compel the end of this conflict on terms beneficial to America and our partners only increases the likelihood of future WMD use by the regime, transfer to Hizballah, or acquisition by Al Qaeda. No one wants to be asking why we failed to act if the next time Sarin is used it is in the Paris or New York subway.
“The United States’ broader policy goal, as articulated by the President, is that Assad should go, and President Obama’s redline is consistent with that goal and with the goal of deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction. It is the type of redline virtually any American President would draw. Now America’s credibility is on the line. A failure to act when acting is in America’s interests and when a red line has been so clearly crossed will only weaken our ability to use diplomacy, economic pressure, and other non-lethal tools to remove Assad and deter Iran and other aggressors.
“There are no easy solutions and a one-off military strike is not by itself an adequate strategy, but I am convinced that the risks of inaction outweigh the risks of a limited intervention. And a well-designed and well executed strike that both deters the use of chemical weapons and diminishes the capacity of the Assad regime can contribute to the achievement of a clear and attainable goal: the ultimate displacement of the Assad regime by moderate elements within the opposition. That is why it is imperative that the Administration continue to identify and support those moderate elements who are battling both Assad and Al Qaeda.
“Should the Commander-in-Chief decide to use military force, I hope he will do so judiciously and with close and continuing consultation with the Congress.”