In a nationally televised address Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that recent diplomatic steps may make the use of military force in Syria unnecessary, but he also ordered the military to maintain their positions “to keep the pressure on [President Bashar] Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.”
He said it’s too early to tell if the Russian government, an ally of Syria, will join the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. But, assuming the Russians keep their word Obama said he asked Congress “to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.”
In a phone interview after the president’s remarks, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, who voted in committee against authorizing military force in Syria, said there’s discussions about drafting another resolution that would authorize force if negotiations with the United Nations fail.
Murphy maintained his opposition to military action. “I’m still committed to the idea that military action is not in the best interest of the United States,” Murphy said. “I still don’t believe the administration has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that intervention in Syria will end up advancing U.S. national interests.”
Obama’s postponement of action while the world waits for Assad to turn over his chemical weapons to the international community has other members of the Connecticut delegation breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t have to make a decision in the near future.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he was still undecided on Sunday at a town hall forum in Darien.
“I am hopeful that a verifiable, enforceable, and timely diplomatic solution will be the American and world response to Syria’s deplorable actions,” Blumenthal said Tuesday night in a statement. “I remain concerned about the resolution now before the Senate authorizing the use of military force. It is too broadly written, lacks international support, and risks entangling us in Syria’s protracted civil war.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, who was leaning toward voting against the use of military force, said the president made a strong case for the use of military force if a diplomatic solution fails, but added that “no man, not even the president, can predict what might happen amid the fog of war.”
Himes continued: “I’m pleased the president is open to a diplomatic solution that removes chemical weapons from the Syrian battlefield and will do what I can to advance that objective.”
U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who called on the United States to make its case to the United Nations Security Council, said that “many Americans agree that our best path forward begins with a diplomatic and international answer to the problems in Syria.”
Larson added, “After hearing from my constituents, I know this is the correct approach in response to the vile chemical attacks experienced by the Syrian people.”
Larson held a town hall forum on the issue on Sept. 2 and plans to hold another this Sunday in East Hartford.
Freshman Rep. Elizabeth Esty said that she still has questions and remains undecided about how she would vote, if asked to vote.
“I still have a lot of questions and concerns and remain undecided on my vote,” Esty said Tuesday. “I believe that an international effort to address Assad’s actions is appropriate. The newly emerging possibility of bringing Syria to the U.N. with a diplomatic resolution to secure the chemical weapons, if the proposal can be effectively negotiated, is a very important development that should be pursued.”
U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney did not issue statements following the president’s address.