Middle East/North Africa

Kucinich: Syria strike would turn US into ‘al Qaeda’s air force’

Airstrikes on Syria would turn the U.S. military into “al Qaeda’s air force,” former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told The Hill.

The outspoken anti-war activist said any such action would plunge the United States into another war in the Middle East and embolden Islamist militants fighting Bashar Assad’s regime.

“So what, we’re about to become Al Qaeda’s air force now?” Kucinich said. “This is a very, very serious matter that has broad implications internationally. And to try to minimize it by saying we’re just going to have a ‘targeted strike’ — that’s an act of war. It’s not anything to be trifled with.”

{mosads}The comments echo warnings from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who voted against legislation to arm the Syrian rebels earlier this year by saying such a move would boost al Qaeda.

Kucinich also said President Obama would be violating the Constitution if he doesn’t get congressional approval before taking any military action in Syria. 

Kucinich retired last year after 16 years in the House when his Cleveland district was redrawn and he lost his primary. He led the fight against President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and joined nine other lawmakers in suing Obama over his intervention in Libya two years ago.

Kucinich raised doubts about rebel forces’ allegations that Assad’s forces used poison gas to kill more than 1,300 people last week. He said the administration is “rushing” to what could becoming “World War Three” based on questionable evidence.

“This is being used as a pretext,” he said. “The verdict is in before the facts have been gathered. What does that tell you?”

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the United States would soon be sharing “undeniable” evidence of Assad’s involvement. White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Tuesday that it was not seeking “regime change” with its upcoming response, but is merely weighing a limited reaction to the violation of “an international standard.”

Some lawmakers don’t buy it.

“Before engaging in a military strike against Assad’s forces, the United States must understand that this action will likely draw us into a much wider and much longer-term conflict that could mean an even greater loss of life within Syria,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement Tuesday. “I urge the Administration to continue to exercise restraint, because absent an imminent threat to America’s national security, the U.S. should not take military action without Congressional authorization.”

Twenty-one Republican lawmakers, joined by one Democrat, so far have signed onto a House letter to Obama demanding that Congress sign off on any military response.

“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” says the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.).

Others have made their voices heard separately.

“While the use of chemical weapons is deeply troubling and unacceptable,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), “I believe there is no military solution to the complex Syrian crisis.”

And Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) warned that “any response should include collaboration with other nations and consultation with the United Nations to figure out what weapons have been used.

“Congress must be engaged and we must be sensitive to the needs of the American people and the Syrian people.”

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill 

Tags Chris Murphy John Kerry Rand Paul Scott Rigell

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