In the Washington Post, Republican congressmen Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Pompeo of Kansas, two Army veterans, urge their colleagues to vote in favor of authorizing a military strike against the Syrian regime:
Core U.S. national security interests are implicated in Syria, more so than ever by Assad’s use of chemical weapons.
First, U.S. credibility is at stake: Obama drew this “red line” a year ago. Some have criticized him for a reckless remark, but the criticism is misplaced.
With or without that comment, our enemies and allies would still be watching to see whether we will tolerate rogue dictators using weapons of mass destruction on the borders of our allies. Inaction will tell Assad, Kim Jong Un and others that it’s open season for the use of chemical weapons. Assad might also transfer these weapons to his terrorist ally Hezbollah, which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
The day the United States fails to act against Assad is likely the day Iran’s supreme leader spins his uranium centrifuges into overdrive. If we won’t act against a use of weapons of mass destruction, Iran will surely believe that we will not act against its nuclear program. And once Iran has a nuclear breakout, its nuclear warheads could hit the United States in less than two years.
Second, our country has a strong interest in preserving the international taboo against the use of chemical weapons. U.S. troops benefit from this standard. And while some note, fairly, that innocent civilians are no less dead from conventional artillery than from chemical weapons, the key difference is scale. Conventional weapons can cause only so many casualties. With chemical weapons, what kills hundreds today can kill tens of thousands tomorrow.
Third, our allies are being weakened and our enemies emboldened. Israel, our closest ally in the region, faces an existential threat from Iran and uncertainty in Egypt. The last thing Israel needs is Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the march. Jordan, a close Arab ally and Israel’s partner in peace, is being destabilized by a massive influx of Syrian refugees. Turkey, our NATO ally, faces a similar refugee crisis.