A "no" vote from Congress on action against Syria "guarantees a bad outcome," said U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.
The Wichita Republican appears to be the only member of the Kansas delegation in Washington who will support authorization to use military force against Syria.
President Barack Obama has "absolutely made a mess of American policy in the Middle East," said Pompeo. But ultimately, he said, a "no" vote would tell Syrian President Bashar Assad he can continue gassing civilians. Pompeo said it also would embolden Hezbollah, Al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"We all owe it to the American people to make sure we understand the ramifications of denying our government the capacity to respond," Pompeo said.
Pompeo spoke to The News by phone from Israel.
A member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Pompeo was in Washington this weekend for a briefing and then left Sunday for a Middle East trip. Pompeo said the trip was planned before Obama's announcement Saturday he would seek authorization from Congress for military action.
Pompeo declined to identify other members from Congress on the trip. He said they were visiting a number of countries in the Middle East, and he would be back in Kansas on Friday.
The administration is convinced the Assad regime used chemical weapons that claimed more than 1,400 lives in the country's civil war.
A symbolic bombing or a "shot across the bow" should not be the response for the U.S., in Pompeo's opinion.
"This has to be a robust response," he said, with a strategic objective. The West Point graduate does not envision sending in U.S. troops, but said Assad needs to go.
Pompeo wants language changes and clarification in the resolution, but said he "absolutely" would try to persuade his fellow House Republicans to support authorization.
Senators say no
Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, and Jerry Moran, R-Manhattan, said they will be "no" votes.
"This Marine knows from experience a country never engages in an aggressive action without a clear objective, a plan of alternative actions and a clear exit strategy. It is clear to me we have none of these," Roberts said in a statement Tuesday.
"While I recognize the horror of citizens and their children being murdered by their own government, whether by poison gas or by bombs and bullets, it is clear we have no meaningful coalition of allies, nor detailed plan of action nor clear picture of our objective," Roberts said.
Roberts said he was especially troubled, based on a briefing Tuesday, "that the president wants open-ended authority."
Moran issued a statement Saturday saying:
"America cannot afford another conflict that taxes our resources without achieving goals that advance American interests, and I will not support authorizing military action against Syria at this time."
Roberts and Moran are the only Kansans now on Capitol Hill who were there in 2002 when the Senate and House passed a resolution regarding intervention in Iraq.
They both voted for that resolution.
Huelskamp, Yoder, Jenkins
U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler/Hutchinson, pointed out what Kansans are telling him.
"In recent days I have hosted 14 town halls, and the unanimous opinion of Kansans has been clear: Stay out of this quagmire. I agree," Huelskamp said in a news release.
On Tuesday, Huelskamp criticized Obama's "broad request."
"Obama has not yet articulated any vital national security interest that would justify risking the lives of American soldiers in the Syrian civil war," Huelskamp said.
"Impossible as that may be, Obama's strategy in the Syrian quagmire appears to be as impotent and incoherent as it was in Egypt and Libya," Huelskamp said.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, does not believe a military attack is warranted at this time. However, Yoder said in a Facebook post, he looked forward to discussing the president's plan with constituents and "giving it full consideration" on the House floor.
Four days prior to Obama's announcement Saturday, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, expressed opposition to U.S. military action.
"The United States of America cannot continue to act as the world's police force in areas of the world where our help is not wanted," Jenkins said.
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