MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In response to President Barack Obama’s address Tuesday night, Rep. Michele Bachmann released a statement saying not only had Obama failed to provide clear reasoning as to why U.S. military intervention would be needed in Syria but that his administration’s handling of the entire situation has been “stunningly incompetent and incoherent.”
“From the outset, the Obama Administration has failed to articulate an identifiable American national security interest or a clear strategy for success, which is why I remain adamantly opposed to the use of military force in Syria,” the statement from the Republican congresswoman read.
It went on to say that any military action would only make the situation in Syria worse, and that her constituents are close to unanimous in their opposition to U.S. involvement in the war-torn country.
“I agree with my constituents…and if a vote comes to the House floor, I will oppose the authorization of military force,” the statement said.
In his speech, Obama appealed to the emotions of Americans as he described why a military strike would be warranted against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. He said the regime’s recent use of chemical weapons against its people required a response stronger than resolutions and statements of condemnation.
“Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria,” he said.
The president also said that given Syria’s offer earlier Tuesday to give up its chemical weapons, he’d ask Congress to postpone the vote on a military strike. His administration, he said, would work with the United Nations — and Russia in particular — to remove Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal and ultimately destroy the weapons.
But if diplomacy fails, Obama said the military would be “in position.”
Rep. John Kline, another Minnesota Republican, also responded to Obama’s speech, and in terms similar to ones Bachmann used.
“For two weeks, the President has failed to convey to the American people a clear objective for military intervention in Syria,” a statement from Kline said.
Across the aisle, Rep. Betty McCollum, who had been in support of a military strike, said that only because of the threat of U.S. involvement had Syria offered to give up its chemical weapons. The Democrat added that she supports the effort to engage Russia and disarm Assad peacefully.
She also said the president has her full support, and echoed his explanation as to why military force might be needed.
“If the murder of civilians with chemical weapons is allowed to become the new international norm,” a statement from her said, “the America (sic) people will never be safe from their use by rogue regimes or terrorists.”
But not all Democrats were convinced by Obama’s speech. Rep. Rick Nolan — who has been against U.S. involvement in Syria — said that while he applauds the president for seeking diplomatic solutions, he remains cautious of taking military action.
“War should always be our last choice,” he said, “not our first choice.”