Congressman Farr on U.S. Military Action in Syria

Sep 5, 2013

Democratic Congressman Sam Farr at his office in Salinas.
Credit Krista Almanzan

President Barrack Obama is gaining support for taking military action against Syria for its use of chemical weapons on its own people.  Next week, the vote is set to go before Congress where Central Coast Congressman Sam Farr will weigh in. 

He says while he’s glad the President is asking for authorization, he will vote no.  “I think that the biggest problem that I have with this is there are 188 countries, comprising about 98% of the world’s population, that are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Where are those 187 other countries?  If indeed this is going to be a disciplinary action for violating the conventions of chemical weapons, then that disciplinary action needs to be enforced by sort of all the parents, or all the signatures, to really have some meaning. I think the unintended consequences is the United States is perceived in other Arab countries as attacking another Muslim country, third in a row.  And I can’t understand how that’s going to lead to a more peaceful Middle East,” said Congressman Farr during an interview at his office in Salinas.

KA: And if we know that these other countries area against the use of chemical weapons, what do you need to see from them that would be a sign of support since the US tends to be the country in the best position to respond?

Congressman Farr: Well we are giving these countries a lot of aid.  We give them in two forms: foreign aid and military assistance for purchasing weapons.  So I hope that the countries that we are trying to give money to buy military weaponry, and countries were given foreign aid to ought to be the first to stand up next to the United States, and say we want to be part of the solution.  And I don’t think going alone, or even with a few folks, is enough to assure a stable outcome after the incident occurs.

KA: Now President Obama says this would not be another Iraq, this would not be another Afghanistan, that he’s talking about limited strikes. Is that different to you or is it all the same?  Is it an act of war regardless of what form that takes?

Congressman Farr: It certainly is less than committing troops, and committing yourself to war, like an invasion like we did with Iraq.  I mean this is different.  And it’s going to be on a limited scale because Congress will limit it.  I think the unanswered question:  who pays for it?    I hope that the President would ask the nation, if indeed the nation supports it, to support revenue to pay for it because we’re in it for the long haul.  And I don’t think you can just go in a do a quick action in 60 days, and everybody is happier after it’s over. 

KA: So what do you think is the appropriate response when you know  that citizens are being attacked with chemical weapons by their own government?  What is the appropriate answer.

Congressman Farr: I think that’s the moral debate that this country is going on.  I think people agree that there ought to be a response, and what is the appropriate response?  It’s a response that can’t just be an American response because it isn’t an American solution.  It’s Syria.  This is the Middle East where a lot of delicate things are going on that could cause an escalation of violence.  And it seems to me we can’t be the only ones guarding the gate.