U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the possible decision by President Obama to participate in a coalition joint airstrike against the Assad regime in Syria following reports of chemical weapons use by the regime against rebel forces. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"The United States must exercise extreme caution when weighing our options in Syria. Putting boots on the ground is not an option, but the time has come for us to consider -- in conjunction with our allies -- multilateral airstrikes against the murderous Assad regime and its infrastructure. However, this decision cannot be made unilaterally by the President like what we saw in Libya. He has an obligation under the Constitution and the War Powers Act to receive Congressional authority prior to engaging our military in Syria. The President must present his argument for strikes against the Assad regime to the American people and to Congress. He must be transparent, make his case that this wanton disregard for the sanctity of human life cannot be allowed to continue unabated and merits an appropriate response from those who have a moral obligation to protect, fully detail the U.S. national security interests at risk, and ask for the authority to act against Assad.
"At this point there's no easy decision. We're stuck with the least worst option. Any decision we make in Syria will have effects and consequences throughout the region and those consequences must be fully weighed. Had we gotten involved in Syria early on when Assad began his onslaught against his people and supported those who stood against him and called for freedom and democracy, we might not be faced with such difficult decisions today. But now Iran and Hezbollah have become entrenched in this conflict, fighting alongside the Assad regime, and Russia continues to supply Assad with the weapons and weapons systems he needs to remain in power while also blocking any action against Syria at the UN Security Council. The opposition has long been fractured and has been co-opted by Islamists and al-Qaeda affiliates. The U.S. cannot trust them, and under no circumstances must we be arming them. Responsible nations must hold Assad accountable for his use of chemical weapons, but we also must continue to push for a political solution to the Syrian problem, and that means we must pressure Russia to end its support for the Assad regime."