Congressional Visit Materials
Below is a flyer from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which can be used as a leave behind for the Hill. or Congressional visits They also put this together as suggested questions for the HFAC & SFRC staffers to use in developing questions for the Admin’s hearings: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/09/03/10-syria-questions-for-john-kerry-and-chuck-hagel
1) The international community is united in condemning chemical weapons use in Syria.
U.S. strikes would erode this unity. Governments around the world—including Iran and Russia—have condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria. A unilateral U.S. attack would create divisions in the international community and draw attention away from the horror of chemical weapons and how to prevent their future use in Syria.
2) The international community has effective political tools to address the use of chemical weapons.
The 189 signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention have obligation to respond to violations. The U.S. should convene a meeting of all the parties to this convention so that they can collectively decide what to do, as called for in the terms of the treaty. The U.S. should also request that the United Nations ask the International Criminal Court to investigate all parties that may be using chemical weapons or committing crimes against humanity in Syria.
3) No military solution exists to the crisis in Syria.
As the Obama administration and Pentagon officials have long pointed out, Syria’s bloody civil war can only be solved by political means, not by the application of military force. Most recently, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey made this point in a letter sent to Rep. Eliot Engel (NY) in late August. U.S. military action risks killing more people and has a low probability of effectively deterring the future use of chemical weapons.
4) The U.S. needs to pursue a political solution that involves internal and external stakeholders—including the Arab League, Russia, and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.
To be successful, any settlement needs to be negotiated between all internal parties to the conflict and include consultation with the external backers that have helped fuel this conflict. The U.S. can help save Syrian lives by engaging with Assad’s enablers—including Iran, Russia, Hezbollah, and China—who can potentially influence Assad’s actions.
Iran is a particularly important nation to engage. Just before his inauguration this summer, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called on Iran not to shy away from criticizing the brutality of the Assad regime. But the U.S. has yet to engage Iran on Syria. A U.S. attack would undermine prospects for successful U.S.-Iran diplomacy to help stabilize Syria.
5) A U.S. attack on Syria could start a region-wide war.
The Syrian regime could retaliate to a U.S. attack by launching more attacks on Israel, Lebanon or other parts of the Middle East. This could lead the U.S. to escalate in response and commit itself to waging an open-ended, multi-billion war.
Furthermore, U.S. intervention could play into the hands of the Syrian regime, triggering an outpouring of nationalist support for Assad among Syrians who perceive the regime as their only protection from foreign military intervention. This scenario played out both in 1983-84 following U.S. Navy air attacks on Syrian positions in Lebanon and in 2008 after U.S. army commando raids in eastern Syria. Strikes could also strengthen al Qaeda’s presence in the region by emboldening opposition groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which have avowed affiliations with al Qaeda.