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GOP Combat Veterans Lead Fight Against Syrian Military Strike

By    |   Saturday, 07 September 2013 09:32 AM EDT

Republican congressmen who have witnessed the horrors of war for themselves as combat veterans are among those leading the way in opposition to American involvement in Syria.

Reps. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, Chris Gibson and Michael Grimm of New York, Doug Collins of Georgia, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Steve Stivers of Ohio have all come out saying they oppose air strikes.

In an article for the Detroit News, Bentivolio, a Vietnam War veteran who also served in the latest Iraq conflict, set out his stall against military intervention.

"What has been happening in Syria is truly a human tragedy. The nation has been torn apart by civil war. Tens of thousands have either lost their lives or been driven from their homes. It is without a doubt that Assad is not a friend of ours," he said.

"However, it has also been made clear that those who oppose him have direct ties to al-Qaida. Whoever wins this war will not be affectionate toward the United States."

He added that he does not believe American involvement is a matter of national security, and that President Barack Obama has not made an adequate case to that end.

Grimm, a former Marine who served in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm had planned to support a strike but changed his mind and withdrew his support of the president's plan on Thursday.

He told CNN he had lost faith in the administration "and their ability to do this in a manner that will benefit the United States."

"Am I still concerned that this will affect the way Iran looks at us — the way our enemies perceive us as weak and indecisive? — absolutely," said Grimm. "But I don't think we can get that back now because it has already been done by the president."

Gibson, an Army colonel who had four tours of combat in Iraq, stated his opposition to involvement in a Facebook post

"As you know, the president has asked Congress to authorize military action against Syria," he wrote. "I am strongly opposed to this, and will vote no.

"It is my judgment, as a 29-year veteran of our Armed Forces, that military intervention would make the situation worse and make us responsible for that conflict."

Collins, who went to Iraq as a Major-Chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, told Access North Georgia, "he did not think Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey had made the case to the House Foreign Relations Committee, on which he sits.

"In some ways in my mind they actually gave more questions than they did answers, and I think the American people will see that," he said.

DeSantis, a legal advisor to the Navy SEALs in Fallujah, told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Friday that he was opposed to Obama's request. "Because we don't have Americans in jeopardy, he is not really defending the United States like Reagan did in Grenada or responding to the Libya attacks.

He claimed the only reason Obama is asking Congress for authorization is to give him "political cover."

"The reality that he's running into is the American people don't want the intervention because they recognize that the people fighting Assad are also hostile to American interests. So the outcome of this civil war would be an anti-American regime, and so the calls in my office and my colleagues' offices are 95 to one against getting involved in Syria right now," DeSantis said.

Stivers said the there was not enough of a national interest to warrant military action.  Stivers was awarded a Bronze Star for his accomplishments as a battalion commander in Iraq.

Other GOP combat vets have expressed skepticism about an attack but have not definitively said which way they will vote. Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, who resigned as state treasurer to join the Marines in Iraq, told the Denver Post he was opposed to military intervention but might change his mind if Obama made a good enough case.

Just two GOP veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, have declared their support for military intervention. Cotton penned a Sept. 3 op-ed in The Washington Post supporting military strikes while Kinzinger said in a statement to CNN, "I believe limited military involvement in Syria is the correct course of action to deter the future use of chemical weapons."

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Republican congressmen who have witnessed the horrors of war for themselves as combat veterans are among those leading the way in opposition to American involvement in Syria.
Saturday, 07 September 2013 09:32 AM
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