A Democratic congressman who opposes U.S. military intervention in Syria expressed “deep concern” following Secretary of State John Kerry’s conference call with House Democrats on the subject.
“Deep, deep concern,” Democratic California Rep. John Garamendi told San Diego’s ABC 10 when asked for his reaction to Kerry’s 70-minute conference call Monday with approximately 130 House Democrats. Garamendi identified himself as a “no” vote on intervention at this time.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also participated in the call.
“Are we simply punishing Assad? It seems to be that. And now, it’s turned in to, ‘Well, it’s the credibility of the United States.’ Really? How is our credibility enhanced or harmed?” Garamendi said.
Kerry said during the call that America faces a “Munich moment” with regard to Syria, referring to the infamous 1938 Munich Agreement that allowed Adolf Hitler to annex large swaths of Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan angered Kerry on the conference call by comparing possible intervention in Syria to the United States’ failed participation in the Vietnam War.
“After a three-hour classified briefing and taking time to read all the classified documents, what I have heard and read has only served to convince me more than ever of the folly and danger of getting America involved in the Syrian civil war. I will vote and work against President Obama’s request for open-ended authority to launch military strikes against the Syrian army,” Nolan said following the call.
Multiple Democrats on the conference call reportedly expressed concern that U.S. intervention could create “collateral damage.”
“I am deeply concerned that the proposed White House resolution for #Syria is over-broad and would allow troops on the ground. Can’t support,” California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted Sunday.
Despite opposition within her own caucus, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi supports the Obama administration’s Syria resolution. Pelosi and Republican House Speaker John Boehner will meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
Obama told Republican Sen. John McCain in a private White House meeting Monday that his administration plans to “upgrade the capabilities” of the rebel Free Syrian Army by sending advanced weapons, according to McCain.
The Syrian leader, meanwhile, continues to deny that his government used chemical weapons against civilians in a Damascus suburb August 21, which prompted Obama’s call for U.S. military action.
“Those who make accusations must show evidence. We have challenged the United States and France to come up with a single piece of proof. Obama and Hollande have been incapable of doing so,” al-Assad said Monday in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro.
al-Assad also predicted that U.S. intervention could have dire consequences for the region.
“Everybody will lose control of the situation when the powder keg blows. There is a risk of a regional war,” al-Assad said.