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Iowa GOP to Obama: Heartland doesn’t want war with Syria

- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2013

In a highly unusual move, Iowa's two top Republican party officials are publicly urging President Obama not to go ahead with plans to bomb Syria.

"We oppose your beginning another war by bombing Syria," Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker and party Co-chairman David Fischer wrote Mr. Obama in a letter obtained by The Washington Times.

"As fathers, we believe our children's lives are worth far more than the price you'll pay for admitting you're wrong when it comes to dragging us into war in Syria," Mr. Spiker and Mr. Fischer wrote.

Mr. Obama has said he considering ordering the U.S. bombing of selected sites in Syria after U.S. intelligence officials concluded Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on civilians in Syria in a suburb of Damascus earlier this month.

"We believe the prosperity of America's next generation is worth more than profits for defense contractors and the bump in the polls you and your fellow politicians may receive from portraying yourselves as
wartime leaders," the two men wrote.

The two Republican leaders noted that the U.S. has "been at war for over 10 years now, costing us trillions of dollars and resulting in the death of thousands of American soldiers and untold numbers of civilians. Many of those who survive come home with debilitating injuries, strained families, and emotional scars."

The British parliament rebuffed a move by Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron to have Great Britain jointly conducted the bombing of Syria, in conjunction with France.

Mr. Obama finds himself in an unusual situation as the liberal leader of the liberal party in America threatening war against a Muslim Arab country in the Middle East, while some liberals in his own party have joined with conservative Republicans such are Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky — members of what was tagged as the "war party" during the presidency of George W. Bush — in opposing military action in Syria.

The head of the Texas Republican Party took a cautious stance when asked if he supported a military strike against Syria.

Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri declined to take a public position without first consulting with his state party's other elected leaders — except to suggest Mr. Obama needs congressional authorization for military action.

"I have made it a policy of not issuing resolutions or proclamations without specific authorization by our platform or state Republican executive committee, unlike the president who appears to think he can move forward with military action without authorization from Congress," Mr. Munisteri said in an email.

Despite the opposition, Mr. Obama said he may bomb anyhow because "we don't want the world to be paralyzed" and "there is an incapacity for the [United Nations] Security Council to move forward."

The two elected Iowa state GOP leaders argue in their letter to Mr. Obama that U.S. "troops have been called up again and again as we continue to engage in wars that pose no threat to American security, fighting to control the borders of other countries while our own borders at home remain unsecured."

Mr. Spiker and Mr. Fisher noted that the U.S. claims to "set the standard for freedom and liberty, yet we trample our Constitution, spy on our citizens, engage in nation building, and continue to police other countries whether the people of that country want us there or not. What we have to show for all these military engagements is death, destruction, more enemies, and a broken economy, with a national debt that is over $17 trillion and climbing."

Mr. Cruz and Mr. Paul, both considered likely contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, have argued that, absent the need for immediate retaliation for an ongoing attack on the U.S. homeland, only
Congress has the right to declare war under the Constitution. Both men have urged that the question of bombing Syria be debated in Congress before any act of war is undertaken by the U.S.

Like some other Republicans, Mr. Paul has said there is no reason to believe that bombing Syria will serve the national security interests of the United States.

The two Iowa GOP officials argue much the same thesis on their letter, saying, "Syria is mired in a dangerous civil war and while the news of the conflict there is troubling, it does not present a threat to American security. In fact, American intervention is likely to make things worse and create new enemies. Some intelligence reports even indicate the rebel forces you're contemplating helping may actually be made up of al Qaeda itself."

"There are few things in politics that actually bring Americans together, but 90 percent of Americans oppose a war in Syria. Yet somehow, Mr. President, you and some of our other so-called leaders are gearing up to take us into an unwanted, undeclared, unconstitutional war in Syria. It's time to put an end to this nonsense and mind the store here at home," Mr. Spiker and Mr. Fischer wrote.

At least one top former Republican cabinet official considered a war hawk during his service under President George W. Bush, when the U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, has also changed his tune when it comes
to Syria.

"There really hasn't been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation," former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on the Fox Business Network on Wednesday.

Other Republican leaders are jumping aboard the effort.

Reached for comment, Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere said given past claims by administrations in Washington about hostile acts and intentions by foreign countries, it’s now hard to know whether the Obama administration claims that Assad regime used chemical weapons on civilians or whether the rebels did it and tried to pin it on the Syrian government. And even if the guilty party is the Assad government, it is hard to see how bombing will change anything, Mr.Villere said.

“Obama needs to go to Congress to make his case that bombing Syria will have any positive effects for the people there or for the United States,” Mr. Villere said.

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