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Any Decision to Use Military Force Against the Assad Regime Should Be About Protecting Our National Security Interests, Sending a Message of Deterrence to Iran, and Telling the World That the Use of Chemical Weapons Will Be Answered By Force, Says Ros-Leh

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Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement during a full committee hearing on the Administration's proposed use of military force in Syria.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"Thank you, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel, and General Dempsey, for being here today.

We've been aware of Assad's chemical weapon stockpile for years, yet we failed to hold him accountable.

The United Nations has been completely useless at effecting any change in Syria, thanks in no small part to Russia and China's persistent stonewalling at the Security Council.

And Congress has certainly had our fair share of missed opportunities to affect the course of events in Syria.

Last Congress the House passed the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act overwhelmingly with a vote of 418 and only 2 against -- yet the Senate failed to take any action on it.

Had the United States been taking a more proactive role in Syria by instituting strict sanctions against Assad's regime, it may have changed his calculations on the use of chemical weapons.

In order to justify action now against his regime, and risk further escalating the conflict, the President must clearly identify what our national security interests are.

What are our objectives in limited and targeted air strikes? What does degradation look like, and what will we do if the initial action does not yield the intended results?

One Senate version of the resolution has a limitation on ground troops. This sounds like it leaves open the possibility of boots on the ground for something other than combat operations -- like special operations. Is this intentional? Will you confirm that under no circumstance will we place boots on the ground in Syria?

We all know we're in a tough fiscal environment. Even a limited engagement, if it ends up being only limited, could potentially cost taxpayers billions.

With members of the Arab League so eager for U.S. participation, have they offered to offset any of the costs associated with the action?

Also, Iran and North Korea are carefully watching our next move.

If we say that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, yet we fail to act, this will embolden Iran's pursuit of nuclear breakout capabilities.

A refusal to act in Syria, after the President has set such a clear red line, will be seen as a green light by the Iranian regime who will see that we don't have the will to back up our words."


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