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‘Shot across the bow’ no way to deal with Syria, says Pompeo

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, August 30, 2013, at 7:32 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Sep. 1, 2013, at 3:58 a.m.

A “shot across the bow” isn’t the way for the United States to respond to Syria, U.S. Rep Mike Pompeo said Friday.

He was alluding to President Obama’s comments earlier this week about how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. The president advocated sending a signal to Syria that such acts would not be tolerated.

If the United States intervenes, it should do so with national security in mind, and any response should be robust, not a warning shot, Pompeo said.

“A shot across the bow is like an intentional miss. That is a dangerous statement. You’re saying, ‘You have been green-lighted to continue the outrageous killing of your citizens,’” he said.

The Wichita Republican, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, is scheduled to leave early Monday for an intelligence oversight trip to the Middle East.

“There is a single priority and that is America’s national security interest,” Pompeo said. “When we’re considering using foreign policy and use of American troops, our primary concern has to be national security.”

He said he wants the country to get to a “policy outcome that makes sense. I guess I’d say lastly there are important American strategic interests in all of the conflict that’s taking place in the Middle East today. You can’t think about Syria without thinking about what’s going on in Egypt today, what’s going on in Libya today, what’s going on in Iraq today and even what’s going on today in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have enormous interest in the Middle East, and Syria is a part of that. You have to put our response in context, and I hope the president will do that. But I’m very concerned the president will not do that.”

Pompeo did not say what he thought the United States should do. He also said he was waiting for more intelligence information.

“I can’t tell you precisely what our tactical response should be, but what we should not do is a half-hearted response that will do nothing” to discourage Syria’s president. “If there’s a response, it needs to be robust and well thought-out in the context of overall Middle East policy.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said in a statement that America should not get involved.

“While Mr. Obama apparently debates how many American lives and funds he wishes to risk in the Syrian civil war, he needs to be reminded that Congress has the sole authority to declare war – not the president. The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Huelskamp added: “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. I have seen no evidence of an American national interest in this Syrian civil war. Just like his misadventures in Libya in 2011 – which I opposed — President Obama risks American lives, property and prestige by injecting us into Syria.”

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