WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued the below statement April 14, 2018 in response to last night’s airstrikes in Syria:
“The international community has long condemned the use of chemical weapons. Their use in the 21st century as a tool of war violates international norms. Using them against civilians is especially terrible. Syria's use of chemical weapons earned a response from the international community. I support this military action that the U.S. and two of its key allies conducted last night.
Today, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in Syria to investigate last week's chemical weapons attack. The international community needs to support its work now and ensure the OPCW can complete its work.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I call on the Pentagon to brief the House and Senate Armed Services Committees as soon as possible about next steps.
There are several questions I have in my oversight role on the committee:
1. What changed in the Pentagon’s thinking from Thursday to Friday, from the time that Secretary Mattis expressed reservations about military strikes, to 30 hours later when he spoke at the Pentagon?
2. The Pentagon has said our overriding policy in Syria is the defeat of ISIS, not getting involved in the Syrian civil war; yet, these military strikes are a direct response to an action in the civil war. How will the Pentagon address future attacks on Syrian civilians?
3. What will be the diplomatic follow-up and what are our goals? Are we still trying to end the civil war, are we still trying to get rid of Assad? How do these strikes support that mission?
4. I do not think that last night’s decision to act needed Congressional authorization. However, Congress still needs to update the Iraq and September 11, 2001 Authorization’s for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in the interests of U.S. national security policy. I will continue to advocate for Congressional action.
The U.S. needs to reconcile its national security strategy with a more humane refugee policy. I call on the Administration to reverse its actions to limit the number of Sryian refugees to the United States. In 2016, the U.S. admitted 15,479 Syrian refugees. That number has steadily decreased to 3,024 in 2017 to just 11 so far in 2018.
If attacking Syria for its chemical weapons use on its civilians is humane, then allowing more Syrian refugees to escape Syria and create a new life in our great country is at least as humane.