Ex-Sen. Rick Santorum opposes U.S. strike in Syria

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Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the runner-up in the 2012 GOP presidential race, said Thursday that Congress should oppose President Obama’s push for military strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Mr. Santorum said the Obama administration should have intervened in the conflict more than a year ago and that a limited strike now would be too little, too late.


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“What is happening there is tragic, but it is not in the United States’ best interest to intervene with a military strike,” Mr. Santorum said in a statement posted on the website of Patriot Voices, his political action committee. “I urge my former colleagues in the House and Senate to defeat any measure calling for the use of force in Syria.”

Mr. Santorum is openly considering another bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and his opposition to a strike puts him in line with a growing chorus of Republicans who say the Obama administration missed an opportunity to get the military involved in toppling the Assad regime when the conflict flared up more than a year and a half ago.

“Had President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acted then in support of pro-democracy forces when that rebellion was taking place, we could have removed Assad and helped usher in stability for that country,” Mr. Santorum said. “But we have a very different situation today. After nearly two years, 100,000 people killed, a rebel force comprised of al Qaeda and a Syrian regime in a much stronger position, a military strike would no longer be in our national security interest.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who also is thought to be eyeing the White House, delivered a similar message Wednesday and voted against a resolution, which narrowly passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that gives Mr. Obama 90 days to act and pushes him to take steps to help the rebels looking to topple the Assad regime.

“Those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong,” Mr. Rubio said. “And that is why I have, for over two years, urged the president to pursue a more robust engagement in the hopes of helping the Syrian people replace Assad with a stable, secular and moderate government.”

“However, while I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict,” he said.

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