Miller: The President Must Explain the Vital U.S. National Interests at Stake in Syria

Jun 18, 2013

Click here to watch Rep. Miller’s statement on YouTube

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Candice Miller (MI-10) today made the following comments calling on President Obama to directly explain to the American people why increased United States involvement in the Syrian Civil War is in America’s vital national interest.  Miller said:

“The recent decision of the Obama administration to provide lethal aid to Syrian rebels is a troubling development.  I believe strongly that American power must only be used when our nation is under a direct threat of attack or when the American people have been convinced that vital national interests are at stake.  In the case of Syria there is no imminent threat of attack on our nation, and the President has failed to make any case to the American people that vital American interests are at stake.

“I find it very troubling that the Obama administration has made a decision to ramp up lethal aid to Syrian rebels even though these rebels have not been thoroughly vetted and concerns exist that many have ties to terrorist groups like al Qaeda who are unfriendly to American interests.  Further complicating the issue is the fact that Russia has long standing ties with the Assad regime, they continue to arm Assad and have vowed to block any measures at the United Nations or other diplomatic venues designed to hasten Assad’s removal from power. 

“Getting involved in a largely sectarian conflict in the Middle East which would serve as a proxy war with Russia is a threat to the peace and stability in that region and perhaps the world.  In my view such an undertaking is ill advised without clearly identified vital American interests at stake.  Equally troubling is the fact that President Obama has remained largely silent on this issue while his administration ramps up support for the Syrian rebels.  The Commander in Chief owes it to the American people to speak to them directly about why increased United States involvement in the Syrian Civil War is in America’s vital national interest and who it is exactly that we are supporting.  Vague references to humanitarian concerns will not win the broad support of the American people and without such support any endeavor will not succeed.

“I am not a supporter of the Assad regime.  Assad is a brutal dictator, an ally of Iran and a state sponsor of terror.  But there are many such regimes in this world, and it cannot be the responsibility of the United States to police such regimes unless vital American interests are threatened.  Caution is also advised due to the fact that it remains unclear if the alternative to the current regime would be friendly to American interests.  What is clear is that elements of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are involved with the Syrian opposition and sending arms that could end up in the hands of al Qaeda would be foolish.  I opposed American intervention in Libya for the exact same reasons that I oppose an escalation of American involvement in Syria.  Today we know what resulted from our intervention in Libya.  We intervened on humanitarian grounds to support un-vetted rebels in Benghazi.  After helping to topple the Gaddafi regime, rebels in Benghazi attacked our consulate, murdered our ambassador and three other brave Americans.  To date the Obama administration has still not given a full accounting of why those Americans died.

“Over the last decade America has had experience with conflict in that part of the world from which we have learned costly lessons.  We have spent a great deal of American blood and treasure in an attempt to protect American interests while also providing the opportunity for freedom to oppressed people only to see those efforts devolve into sectarian conflict.  We must not fool ourselves into believing that results in Syria will be any different due to our involvement.

“The President himself must make the case as to why we should ramp up support for the Syrian rebels and win the broad support of the American people.  The President himself must explain the vital national interests at stake.  The President must inform the people who it is we are supporting.  Until that time I will oppose any escalation of American involvement in Syria.”