Lawmakers say chemical attacks cannot go unpunished


(WEAU) -- Tensions are on the rise both in the United States and in Syria. The President, promising to make a decision soon on whether the military will strike in response to what they believe is a chemical weapon attack in Syria on its own people.

The United Nations said its team will investigate the chemical attack Wednesday but if President Obama gives the okay, the U.S. could hit Syria with missiles as early as Thursday. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are say the use of poisonous gas cannot go unpunished.

Congressman Ron Kind (D-3rd Dist.) was in Eau Claire for a listening session at L.E. Phillips Senior Center. He said the violence in Syria is “scary and tragic.”

“When you have bad regimes with bad weapons of this nature, you hope they won’t use it but when they do, there needs to be a coordinated international response,” said Kind.

It was nearly 90 years ago an international treaty was signed prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in warfare. Some lawmakers like Secretary of State John Kerry are convinced chemical weapons were used in Syria as United Nations investigators continue to look into the evidence that could be left behind.

“I'm concerned about us getting drawn into an escalating conflict after a decade of two long wars has taken a terrible toll on both our troops and our national treasure,” said Kind.

Kind said the international community needs to speak in one voice and Russia and China need to step up to send a strong message to President Assad. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said our ties to Russia are already hurting and that could be a long shot.

“The fact that we've not shown resolve, we don’t really have a strategy,” said Johnson. “I don’t believe the world can standby and allow a war crime like the use of chemical weapons to stand. So this is the moment where President Obama must lead. I think he must go before the American public, make the case of why Syria is a national security problem and an issue for America. I mean, chemical weapons have fallen in the wrong hands.”

Kind said while there is no enthusiasm at home or in Washington for boots on the ground or missile flyovers, military action could send the message.

“Certain strategic strikes against military targets may be appropriate. If we can get support within the international community so that we're not acting alone,” said Kind.

Johnson said he hopes Obama comes before congress and seeks congressional approval before making any decisions.

Dr. Ali Abootalebi, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire said if the U.S. does take any action, it won’t go unnoticed.

“We know the United States is not already that popular in the region and of course any move against Syria is going to be seen by a good number of people. The move to further attack yet another Muslim state in the name of security or the use of chemical weapons, because in the long term we know U.S. behavior, no matter what it does, is going to come under scrutiny,” said Abootalebi.

He said the crisis in Syria is connected to the broader issue of the war on terrorism.

“Security of state of Israel, Palestinian situation, Iranian nuclear program, you name it, they're all connected,” said Abootalebi.

He said it’s important the governments work within the frame of the United Nations and be inclusive as opposed to exclusive when dealing with the Syrian situation.


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