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Congressman John Campbell

On Syria

“What is this president thinking?” “Why is he trying to push American into a war in Syria?” “What exactly does a  “red line” mean and who are we supposed to be helping?”

These are the kinds of questions I receive from all of you each day. They are the kind of questions you should be asking and, frankly, they are the questions the president has not answered. Instead, he has come to Congress asking for a blank check to entangle our precious military resources in one of the more tenuous, convoluted, and treacherous threat environments in the world without bothering to provide anything even remotely close to a plan.

I am firmly against any military intervention of any kind in Syria. Not only has the president failed to present a strategy with measurable objectives for success, his desire for authorization to use U.S. military force to intervene in the Syrian civil war represents misguided and dangerous foreign policy.

This morning, The Orange County Register published an op-ed I wrote explaining my position on U.S. intervention in Syria. I’m including it below for your review in hopes that it will help to begin to answer some of your questions.

I will continue to keep you updated as events proceed.

The Orange County Register: OPINION

Rep. John Campbell: Stay out of Syria’s Civil War

By JOHN CAMPBELL / For the Register

This column you have begun to read will be about 500 words in length. That is not nearly long enough to describe the multitude of reasons that the United States should not engage militarily in the Syrian civil war.

I will do my best to give you a synopsis.

First, unlike many conflicts in which the U.S. has intervened, there are no “good guys” here. President Bashar al-Assad is a bad guy who kills his people. Many of the rebel forces, which in no way represent a united front, are also bad guys who are killing people in equally hideous ways for many different reasons.

This is not freedom versus Nazis, communists or terrorists. It makes no sense to commit this nation to a war in which we would almost certainly strengthen al-Qaida or its affiliated groups that will probably be worse for Syria and the world than the current regime.

Secondly, the Syrian civil war is currently contained entirely within Syria. Syria has not attacked any other country nor has it directly threatened the security interests of the United States.

Since when do we attack a country that has not first attacked us or one of our close allies?

As a third point, we have seen this movie before. We were told by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy that Vietnam was a “proxy war” for the greater fight against communism. Later, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and others admitted that it was just a civil war and that they had made a mistake – a mistake that cost 50,000 American lives, much treasure and 10 years of national pain. President Barack Obama admits that the conflict in Syria is a “civil war.” Let’s leave it to the people within that country this time.

Before I run out of word space, there are the two most important points I want to make. We are told that Assad’s use of chemical weapons is the imperative that necessitates a U.S. attack, with or without international support. We are told that U.S. intelligence sources have “high confidence” that such weapons were used and that Assad used them. That is the exact level of confidence they expressed about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – and the exact same people are telling us this once again. These are also the same people who outright lied to you and me when they said they would not read our e-mails or intercept our private conversations. And now, we are supposed to support military strikes that could lead us into another war when even they admit they are “confident” but can’t be “sure”? I don’t trust them, and neither should you.

Finally, in 1914, a Serbian assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. A few months later, Germany and Britain, neither of which had anything to do with the assassination, declared war on one another, and 20 million people, from many countries, died.

A seemingly small event can erupt into a major conflagration. Our “limited” engagement could easily and, I would argue, probably, result in retaliation by Syria or Russia or Iran and quickly spread to a much, much wider conflict no longer contained within the borders of Syria.

Recent history is replete with examples of why going to war in Syria has numerous risks and very scant potential benefits. Let’s listen to those lessons and stay out.

Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine, represents the 45th Congressional District.

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