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Authorizing the Limited and Specified Use of the United States Armed Forces Against Syria--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BALDWIN. Madam President, I come to speak to the important debate we are having about the most sobering issue I face as a Senator, as a Wisconsinite, and as an American--the issue of military action by the United States.

Let me start by saying that the Asad regime's use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people is morally reprehensible and a serious violation of longstanding international law. The various treaties and conventions addressing these issues have been ratified by most of the world's nations. There is a reason why almost the entire world has gathered under the Chemical Weapons Convention to ban these weapons. It is because chemical weapons are truly barbaric in nature. They are a global threat, and they therefore require a global response.

The President has made the right choice to seek congressional authorization for any potential military action in Syria. The gravity of these issues before us is significant and they deserve a full debate. President Obama should be praised for understanding and appreciating that fact. We must demand that all Presidents--not just this President--come to Congress to get approval before taking military action in another country in instances where we are not facing an imminent threat. I have made that case with both Democratic and Republican Presidents.

I strongly believe our response to this situation must not be a unilateral military action. This is not America's responsibility alone, and it is not in our interest to set the precedent that it is our responsibility alone.

Syria violated international laws and should be held accountable by the international community. America must not act alone. The use of chemical weapons is a global atrocity that demands a global response, and that is why I oppose going to war in Syria and I oppose authorizing military involvement in Syria's civil war--not for 1 day, not for 60 days, not for a decade. I do not believe we should involve ourselves militarily in the middle of a brutal years-long civil war. That would not strengthen America's national security. But the answer is not to do nothing. The answer, rather, is to create a situation where these violations of humanitarian norms and crimes against humanity can be dealt with effectively by the U.N. and other international institutions.

We must continue to focus on building a global coalition to support the encouraging developments in the past few days and to resolve this crisis without the use of unilateral military engagement in Syria. By working through the United Nations and its institutions, we strengthen international frameworks that can help resolve the conflict in Syria and build a safer and stronger international community moving forward.

I firmly believe that the recent potential for progress in today's U.N. discussions is a testament to American democracy. By President Obama fulfilling his constitutional duties to come to Congress and by our serious debate here on Capitol Hill, I believe America has helped drive a more constructive international debate and engagement on Asad's regime's atrocities. We must now give the opportunity of a path forward without military involvement in Syria a chance to succeed.

Madam President, I yield back my time and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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