Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Syria (video of Senate floor speech)
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Senate Floor Speech Opposing Military Involvement in Syria
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
I have come to the floor today to stand up and speak to the important debate we are having about the most sobering issue I face, as a Senator, as a Wisconsinite, as an American- the issue of military action by the United States.
Let me start by saying the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people is morally reprehensible and a serious violation of long standing 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 made the right choice to seek Congressional authorization for any potential military action in Syria.
The gravity of the issues before us are 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.
But, I strongly believe that 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 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 and it demands a global response. That is why I oppose going to war in Syria.
That is why I oppose authorizing military involvement in Syria’s civil war.
Not for one day, not for 60 days. Not for a decade.
I do not believe in engaging and involving ourselves militarily in the middle of a brutal, years-long civil war. That will not strengthen America’s national security.
But the answer is not to do nothing. The answer, rather, is to create a situation where these crimes against humanity can be dealt with effectively by the UN and other international institutions.
So we must continue to focus on building a global coalition to support the encouraging developments in the past few days to resolve this crisis without the use of unilateral military engagement in Syria.
By working through the United Nations and institutions, we strengthen international frameworks that can help resolve the conflict in Syria, and build a safer and stronger international community going forward.
I firmly believe that the recent potential for progress, in today’s UN discussions, is a testament to American democracy. By President Obama fulfilling his Constitutional duties to come to Congress, and by our serious, deliberate debate here on Capitol Hill, I believe America has helped drive a more constructive international debate and engagement on the Assad regime’s atrocities.
We must now give the opportunity of a path forward without military involvement in Syria a chance to succeed.
I am not sure of the veracity of reports seen recently on two men from Europe, journalist Domenico Quirico of Italy and teacher Pierre Piccinin of France. However they are saying they overheard, while being held captive by Syrian rebels, those rebels/mercenaries fighting the Assad army “spill the beans” saying the rebels, not Assad forces, were responsible for the August 20 chemical attacks, on which the Obama administration is basing their potential military strikes.