- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rep. Duncan Hunter said Tuesday that President Obama would be breaking the law and even inviting impeachment if he went ahead with strikes on Syria after a congressional rejection.

“I think he’s breaking the law if he strikes without congressional approval,” Mr. Hunter, a California Republican, told The Washington Times. “And if he proceeds without Congress providing that authority, it should be considered an impeachable offense.”

Mr. Obama this weekend sent Congress a draft resolution authorizing use of force to take out Syria’s facilities for weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

But the president said he believes he still has authority to strike unilaterally without backing from Congress, and his aides reportedly said they believe he could still act even if Congress voted next week to reject his request for authorization of force.

Just back from a trip to the Syria-Jordan border last week, Mr. Hunter, who served as a Marine officer in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said he’s leaning against granting Mr. Obama’s request because he doesn’t see evidence the administration has the right objectives in mind.

“Unless the president’s willing to go to war with Syria and send my Marines back in to another country in the region, you don’t just fire warning shots, and you don’t lob a few missiles and say OK, wipe your hands, job well done, they’re deterred,” Mr. Hunter said.

He said the key to a strike is to devastate Syria’s weapons capability — but he also said the U.S. needs to have a long-term strategy in mind too, which involved arming moderate Syrian rebels so they are prepared to hold Damascus when Syrian President Bashar Assad is eventually ousted or leaves.

“If we’re going to authorize the use of force, and we do strike Syria, we need to go all in, 100 percent, hell-bent on setting them back a decade when it comes to their weapons capability, period. There can be no half-measures,” Mr. Hunter said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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