WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says he will oppose a measure authorizing U.S. military force against Syria.
The Tennessee lawmaker said on Monday that a strike carries too much risk and could set off a series of events leading to greater U.S. involvement in another long-term Mideast war. He warned about the uncertainty in agreeing to President Barack Obama’s request for military intervention after last month’s deadly chemical weapons attack.
Alexander was announcing his position at a speech in Nashville. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of his remarks.
The senator has participated by telephone in briefings with senior administration officials and spoke this past weekend with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Alexander’s Tennessee colleague, Sen. Bob Corker, collaborated with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in writing the resolution authorizing U.S. Force.
Note: Here’s Alexander’s news release statement:
NASHVILLE, Sept. 9 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today spoke at the Nashville Rotary Club. The following are excerpts from his remarks:
“The President has asked Congress to authorize a limited military strike in Syria.
“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? 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. 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.”
Immediately following President Obama’s remarks on Syria on Aug. 31, Senator Alexander participated by telephone in a briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Over the weekend the senator discussed the proposed strike by telephone with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Note 2: Curiously, state Rep. Joe Carr, who is challenging Alexander for reelection, issued a news release earlier Monday criticizing Alexander for his silence on Syria. Here it is:
Nashville, TN- The Senate is set to vote on the issue of authorizing military intervention
against Syria as early as Wednesday and Tennesseans, despite a majority being opposed to
intervention, haven’t heard anything about where Senator Alexander stands on the issue, or
how he plans to vote.
“All we hear from Senator Alexander on this issue is crickets. I think the state of Tennessee is
demanding, and will get, someone who is going to show leadership,” Rep. Carr said.
As Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said in a recent
article published in The Hill, “The only thing worse than voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is voting ‘maybe. If
you say you’re a leader and your incumbency matters, you have to demonstrate it in national issues like this one.”
Rep. Carr has been clear about his opposition to striking Syria. It appears the majority of
Tennesseans are set in their opposition to the military strikes, Sen. Lamar Alexander has
been called a fence sitter for his inability to make up his mind about where he stands.
“I oppose the Military Strikes against Syria for one main reason,” says Rep. Carr. “No
definable eminent threat to the United States has been shown to exist that would cause us to
attack a sovereign nation. We should not be going into foreign war unless a threat to our
“To top it all off, it is absolutely cruel to think this administration is going to be asking the
Senate to authorize military action on the 12th anniversary of 9-11 which if approved, would
result in assisting Al Qaeda, the very terrorists who carried the attack 12 years ago on
September 11th,” said Rep. Carr.