- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2013

Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Monday they are opposed to military action in Syria, adding to an ever-increasing tally of senators who will not back President Obama’s bid to punish President Bashar Assad for a chemical attack on Aug. 21.

Mr. Blunt said that Mr. Assad’s actions were “abhorrent” but that Mr. Obama has failed to outline clear goals for his proposed strike.

“After careful consideration and a number of briefings on this topic, I believe this strategy and the unknown response it may provoke are the wrong thing to do, and I will not support the resolution the president has asked for,” he said in a prepared statement.

Earlier, Mr. Alexander said he had arrived at his position after listening to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other top officials over the weekend and discussing the matter with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

“I will vote ‘no’ because of too much uncertainty about what comes next. After step A, what will be steps B, C, D and E?” Mr. Alexander said. “I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat, also said Monday she opposes military action in Syria, despite Mr. Obama’s full-court press to gain authorization for strikes.

She said she would like to see a diplomatic solution to the situation, one that gives Mr. Assad 45 days to shed his stockpile of chemical weapons.

Sen. Mark L. Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, also opposes a strike.

Mr. Alexander’s decision comes amid word on Monday that Russia will advise Syria, its ally, to put its chemical weapons under international control.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he “welcomes” these ideas and would like to see Syrian chemical weapons safely quarantined and destroyed.

Mr. Alexander also signaled he would be open to an alternative to military action.

“There should be other ways, more appropriate to America’s vital national security interests, to discourage and show our disgust with the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people,” Mr. Alexander said.

A hodgepodge of Republicans and Democrats have offered support for a military strike but have not offered a single vision of how aggressive the attacks should be.

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