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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida reaction to Obama's national address on Syria



Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota: “Launching a strike in the Middle East with no clear military objective could very well make a bad situation worse.  The last thing we want to do is incite further chaos in a part of the world that is already on the brink.  I heard nothing in the President’s remarks tonight to change my position against authorizing military force. I do, however, agree with the President that Russia’s proposal to address Syria through diplomatic negotiations should be thoroughly explored.  Whether or not this becomes a reality, the door has now been opened for the international community to express support for a diplomatic solution.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D): "It is the threat of military force that has brought Assad to the point of considering international control of his chemical weapons.  What Congress should do now is authorize the president’s request of a limited strike.  Assad should be warned that if he does not turn the chemical weapons over to international custody in the next three weeks, then the president is authorized to strike.”

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton: "No dictator should be able to gas his own people without facing consequences from the international community, and I applaud President Obama’s commitment to this basic principle of human rights. Unfortunately, for the past two years Russia has blocked every international effort to protect innocent Syrians from Bashar Al Assad’s campaign of mass murder. It is only now, faced with the threat of U.S. military action, that Russia has suddenly expressed any interest addressing the crisis in Syria through peaceful means.  I am truly hopeful that a proposal allowing for the seizure of Assad's chemical weapons is more than another attempt by a brutal dictator to skirt accountability. What remains clear is that the threat of U.S. military force must always remain credible. We must not give Assad or anyone else a reason to doubt that America - and the world - unequivocally reject chemical warfare."

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fort Myers: (Twitter) "Again, after 2night, classified briefings & committee hearings, the admin has failed to present a clear & compelling case 4 US intervention. I will vote NO #Syria."

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee: "I listened to the President with an open mind. But all of the concerns and questions I have remain. I still don't see an imminent threat to the US. I still believe an air strike would exacerbate the situation and create even more imbalance in the Middle East. Once that happens we are faced with an even bigger problem. While I am hopeful diplomatic means will resolve the threat of chemical weapon use by Assad, we need to proceed with caution. Don't forget it was violations of UN resolutions and barring of weapons inspectors that led us into Iraq. So I remain against a military strike. I am hopeful, albeit skeptical that the international community can disarm and hold accountable Assad for his deplorable actions. There are few good options here. But elevating a civil war into an international event should not be one of them."

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City: "While I have been opposed to American intervention in Syria from the start, I had a responsibility to hear from my constituents and study the intelligence before making a final decision.  After doing so, I'm more convinced than ever that a military strike isn't in our nation's best interests.  The President's address to the nation tonight proved that his administration’s diplomacy lacks focus and is wholly incapable of articulating what success would look like in Syria.  I believe it’s a dangerous precedent to set when nations like Russia and China are allowed to take the lead on establishing the ground rules for global security.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami: “Russia, together with China, has protected the Assad regime and stymied repeated attempts by the U.S. and other responsible nations at the UN Security Council to hold it accountable. How can we trust the Russians to convince Assad to willingly hand over his chemical weapons?  The use of chemical weapons merits a strong U.S. military response that will act as a deterrent for other rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea. It is in the US national security interest to keep the use of poison gas from becoming normalized and accepted in clear violation of the Geneva Convention and international norms. The Geneva Convention should not be interpreted as allowing a ‘free first use of gas.”

Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Spring Hill: "Last night, the President continued his pitch to the American people on why our country should go to war in Syria.  It’s a muddled message to say the least - Congress should authorize him to move forward with an act of war that he’s pretty sure won’t turn into a real war. And Congress should provide him that authorization even though he maintains that he doesn’t actually need it. But Congress should also wait to give him the authorization that he says he doesn’t need because there is a potential peaceful solution on the table. But he also thinks the peaceful solution isn’t realistic and that we definitely have a moral obligation to use our overwhelming military force – to start a war that probably won’t turn into a real war.  That’s the message from our Commander in Chief. I’m skeptical to say the least."

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Mirimar: “As our nation weighs military action to prevent the repeated use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against its own people, I am cautiously hopeful that the latest diplomatic developments announced yesterday will result in a Syria free of chemical weapons. However, at this moment, all options remain on the table and Congress must have the opportunity to debate the matter in an open and transparent process. President Obama made the correct decision to take time to gather the facts about the current situation in Syria and to allow for a possible diplomatic solution to the crisis. No matter what course we take, the international community has the moral responsibility to respond to the use of chemical weapons."

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:57pm]


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