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Letter to Colleagues - International Response to Syria

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Hartford, CT

Today, Congressman John B. Larson announced plans to introduce a resolution in Congress urging the international community to act collectively in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. In a letter sent today to Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi and others, Larson asked his colleagues to join his efforts to bring the United States' case to the United Nations Security Council in order to pursue the most effective international course of action.

"The horrific attacks in Syria were a violation of human decency that deserve the attention of every nation," said Larson. "This week, I joined many others in applauding the President for bringing his case for military action before Congress, giving us time to refine our intelligence and hear the opinions of the American people. At a recent forum on Syria in West Hartford, many expressed their concerns over the United States entering another conflict with memories of the Iraq debacle fresh in their minds. Despite their apprehension, many also agreed it would be a mistake to do nothing in the face of such a vile atrocity.

"In light of the responses from my constituents, and the evidence presented to me from the administration, I believe the United States must exhaust all international avenues as Congress begins its debate. Our nation must act in concert with our international partners, nearly all of whom signed agreements prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. We must bring our case to the United Nations Security Council to help garner international support, in spite of the abhorrent obstructionism shown by Russia.

"That is why I plan to introduce a resolution in Congress in support of a collaborative, global response to these attacks. While it is clear that those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable for their actions, I stand with many Americans in Connecticut and across the country who understand that ultimately our strength will come from an international response."

In addition to his resolution, Larson has written letters to both U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressing the need for an international response to Syria. Text of the letter to Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi and other Members below:

Dear Colleague,

We are all shocked and horrified by the chemical weapons attack that occurred in Syria on August 21, 2013. This was a violation of international law and more importantly a violation of human decency. In recent days, the Obama administration has presented to the American public, Congress, and the world community, evidence that indicates with a high degree of confidence that the Syrian government, led by Bashar al-Assad, is responsible for this heinous act. In addition, the United Nations has sent in inspectors to confirm that a chemical weapons attack occurred and will issue a report in the coming week, but will not identify the perpetrator of the act. Nearly every nation on the planet has signed agreements that prohibit the use of chemical weapons. Clearly, we cannot allow this violation to go without a response.

The President made the appropriate decision to request authorization from Congress to use military force prior to engaging our forces. Congress must now determine the appropriate course of action, and I believe this means ensuring that the United States is acting in concert with international partners to respond to this breach in international law. This means bringing our case to the United Nations Security Council and seeking a decision on an international course of action.

However, over the course of the last few days one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Russia -- has rejected the assessment put forward by the U.S. government attributing responsibility to the Syrian government for this attack and putting blame on the rebel forces. This is in spite of a clear and convincing case presented by our government showing that the Assad regime is responsible and without providing any evidence to the contrary.

I urge you to cosponsor the resolution below calling on the international community to act collaboratively to respond to the chemical weapons attack, urge the United Nations Security Council to immediately meet to examine evidence put forward by the United States in regards to the Assad regime's responsibility for these actions, and to determine a recommended course of action. If Russia has evidence to contradict our government's assessment, they should bring that forward to the international community at that time. However, simply blocking any attempt to move forward with a resolution on the Security Council should not be acceptable. This is not the time for obstructionism. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Security Council to "unite and develop an appropriate response" following the report back from the UN inspectors, stating that "this is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria. This is about our collective responsibility to mankind."

As Secretary Kerry stated before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the world is watching our actions, and it is up to us to lead by working with the international community to enforce international laws.


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