Syria continues to be a major topic of debate in Congress, as President Obama tries to enlist senators and representatives to support military action there.
During a series of Congressional hearings about the Syrian civil war, a Republican congressman directly challenged Secretary of State John Kerry on not just a possible American attack, but the looming questions surrounding the Benghazi Embassy attack as well. South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan questioned the Obama administration’s credibility in relation to foreign affairs during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
“The administration has a serious credibility issue with the American people due to unanswered questions surrounding the terrorist attack in Benghazi almost a year ago,” Duncan said. “Bottom line is there’s a need for accountability and trust-building from the administration. Mr. Kerry, your predecessor [Hillary Clinton] asked, ‘What difference does it make now?’ [Referencing why the attack in Benghazi occurred] Well this is the difference, Mr. Secretary. The American people deserve answers before they move forward talking about military involvement in Syria.”
Duncan then held up a photo of US Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who was killed in the attack.
“America deserves answers before we send another man or woman of the caliber of Ty Woods in harm’s way, especially in another country’s civil war,” Jeff Duncan said.
Rep. Duncan went on to talk about the four victims who died violently in the Benghazi attack. He also asked Kerry if the White House has been involved in arming the rebels and whether it has transferred arms to Syria via Libya.
“Mr. Kerry, you have never been one that has advocated for anything other than caution when involving U.S. forces in past conflicts. The same is true for the president and the vice president,” Duncan said. “Is the power of the executive branch so intoxicating that you would abandon caution in favor for pulling the trigger on a military response so quickly?”
Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Duncan’s argument.
“When I was in the United States Senate, I supported military action in any number of occasions, including Grenada, Panama — I can run a list of them,” Kerry said, voice raising. “And I am not going to sit here and be told by you that I don’t have a sense of what the judgment is with respect to this. … We’re talking about people being killed by gas and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious.
“This is not about getting into Syria’s civil war,” John Kerry later added. “This is about enforcing the principle that people shouldn’t be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity!”
“Let’s draw the proper distinction here, congressman. We don’t deserve to drag this into yet another Benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the Congress is going to stand up for international norms!”
Recent polls still show that a majority of Americans do not want the United States to engage in any type of military attack in Syria.
A Gallup poll conducted Sept. 3-4 showed US adults, by a 51-36 percent margin opposing “the U.S. taking military action against Syria in order to reduce that country’s ability to use chemical weapons.” Democrats were split, with 45 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed, with Independents (53 percent opposed, 34 percent in favor), and Republicans (58-31 percent) standing against any military action. Polls by Pew, ABC News/The Washington Post and NBC News also show Americans opposed.