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After Presidential Appeal, Murphy Not Convinced On Syrian Intervention

by | Sep 3, 2013 12:17pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Congress

Hugh McQuaid Photo Despite a personal call from President Obama this weekend, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said Tuesday that he heads back to Washington skeptical of authorizing American involvement in Syria.

The two-year conflict in Syria may have reached a tipping point last month following reports that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used Sarin gas, a banned chemical weapon, outside Damascus. News reports have estimated the death toll in that attack at around 1,400 with civilians among the victims. Those casualties contribute to 100,000 deaths now attributed to the conflict.

As reports of evidence purporting to verify the use of Sarin gas by government troops have circulated around the world, President Obama and Secretary of the State John Kerry, among others, have been advocating for military intervention of some kind. Over the weekend, Obama announced he would seek Congressional authorization before pursuing a military strike.

Murphy left early Tuesday from an affordable housing forum organized by his office so he could board a plane to Washington to attend a Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the administration’s military intervention plans.

“I return to Washington still a skeptic of military intervention in Syria,” he said. “I’ve been one of the leading voices in the Senate against military strikes, and though I will let the administration make its case after these chemical weapons attacks, I’m going to have to be convinced that this makes sense for the American people.”

Murphy said he spoke with the president during a personal call on Sunday. He said he expressed his skepticism to Obama.

“[I] told him I was going to need to be convinced, but I would let him and his administration make the case,” he said.

The senator said he has doubts that a military strike by the U.S. will make the situation in Syria any better for the people there. He said it may make things worse. Murphy said he also has concerns that American involvement could “spiral out of control” and result in the country being involved in a broader conflict rather than one targeted strike.

“The president told me this weekend that he firmly believes that we can keep this strike limited and that this will not involve a long term U.S. commitment, but I remain doubtful that this does not escalate in the region,” he said.

Murphy said he also heard from constituents over the weekend. He said people in Connecticut are “horrified” by the chemical weapons attacks but wonder whether U.S. involvement will help. He said Connecticut residents are more engaged on the Syrian topic than they have been since the debate over health care reform.

“I heard loud and clear from people across Connecticut this weekend, that this state is pretty weary of war,” he said. “They need to be convinced as well by the president this week that there is a direct national security interest in striking Syria.”

-Click here to read about Rep. John Larson getting feedback on the issue

Murphy said the U.S. has “suffered from an abundance of hubris” when it comes to the impact of its involvement in Middle Eastern affairs. He said that U.S. intervention often either fails to improve the situation or actually makes it worse.

“We need to have a sober conversation in Washington this week about the limits of American power,” Murphy said. “There are some times when there are awful things happening around the world and the United States can’t change that reality.”

Murphy said he considered the resolution initially proposed by the administration a “non-starter.”

“It does not have any of the limitations that the president has talked about publicly such as a restriction against the use of ground forces,” he said, adding that the Foreign Relations Committee is working on another draft of the resolution. “The only way that resolution passes the Senate and certainly the House is if there is much more limitation built into the president’s authority.”

Murphy said he expects that Congress will take a vote on some version of the resolution by early next week.

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(19) Archived Comments

posted by: dano860 | September 3, 2013  12:39pm

As I have said before, “would they show up here to help us in a similar situation?”
The president goofed, again, when he claimed to draw a ‘red line’. Now the bully is calling his bluff.
There is no way we can go it alone. The missile strikes will result in major civilian deaths and we will be the bad guys then. They will place civilians all in and around the high value targets. After all, we have been broadcasting our plans for over two weeks now.

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | September 3, 2013  1:54pm

This is what you get when you elect a guy for the most powerful managerial position in the world who has had absolutely no experience in management or leadership.

The smooth orator is also MIA in his ability to persuade the American people.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | September 3, 2013  2:27pm

Murphy’s making sense - for now. Let’s see if he can hang in there.

posted by: ASTANVET | September 3, 2013  2:40pm

Dano, I’d go one further - the Muslim brotherhood thinks the US is ripe for regime change… should they start lobbing cruise missiles into the US to embolden the rebels?  It is just insane foreign policy.  What is the mission, what effects will our missiles have (intended and otherwise) and how do we know when it’s over?  Operation Overlord (D-Day invasion) was written on one page.  One of the most complex military operations in human history… clear, concise, defined objectives that every Soldier could understand.  This starts (at best) as a quagmire.

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 3, 2013  5:20pm

Our foreign policy appears to be continued Pentagon directed “Wartime Prosperity.” Muslim factions have been fighting each other for over 1000 years in the MidEast—and U.S. is going bankrupt with our getting involved in every Muslim internal strife.  Our massive foreign aid promotes much of this infighting to start with.

posted by: art vandelay | September 4, 2013  6:20am

art vandelay

Obama came into office as a Rank Amateur.  His only real life experience besides academia was a stint as a community organizer in Chicago, and absent Illinois State Senator & US Senator for 6 months. He hadn’t had time to even locate the bathrooms in the Capitol Building. The only foreign policy experience he had was from reading a few books at the Harvard Library.  Now he’s Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the world, and is apologizing to nations and bowing his head to world leaders.  He’s a total buffoon who’s way out of his league.  I’m no Murphy fan but he’s 100% correct on this one.  STAY OUT!

posted by: art vandelay | September 4, 2013  6:31am

art vandelay

Obama can’t even rally the troops in his own party let alone allies like Great Britain & France.  If we go it alone it will only infuriate the Arab world, and they WILL retaliate against us.  George HW Bush worked for months to build a collation before even considering the invasion of Kuwait.  Obama’s goal is to get Congressional approval so when this turns into a fiasco he can blame the Republicans like he always does so he can win back the House next year.

posted by: Joebigjoe | September 4, 2013  1:44pm

I still can’t get over the fact that I’m agreeing with Murphy for once…..so far

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 4, 2013  4:31pm

In the past I always considered that Sen. Murphy was a “rubber stamp for the wishes of Pres. Barack Obama.”  Perhaps, I was wrong, as Murphy is skeptical about the involvment of U. S. interventiion in Syria being pushed by the President.  I only hope that Obama does not change Murphy’s mind—a talent our Commander In Chief “excels at” in dealing with his flock.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | September 4, 2013  5:17pm

Apparently, Murphy stuck to his guns. Per reports he voted no on the resolution debated at Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. Showed some spine - and sense.

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 4, 2013  9:01pm

JamesBronsdon: Sen. Murphy still has time to change his mind. Don’t hold your breath.

posted by: ALD | September 4, 2013  10:43pm

Stan and James, If I got this right the vote today was 10-7 in favor of giving Obama some authority to strike. In other words Murphy’s vote either way, wasn’t going to change the outcome. I’d be much more impressed and more likely to feel he has stopped being an automatic rubber stamp for his party if his vote was a vote that actually made a difference.  Having said that at least he voted as I would have wanted him to. For once!!!!

posted by: justsayin | September 5, 2013  10:06am

This is a CYA move by Murphy. Public sentiment is against the move and he is playing that angle. ALD you are correct his vote was a non-issue.

posted by: OutOfOutrage | September 5, 2013  11:36am


Good call Sen Murphy.  How about we save the money we would have spent entangling ourselves in another middle eastern quagmire and use it to fix the bridges and roads!

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 5, 2013  2:06pm

“Our warmonger leaders” should consider that 50% of Americans are opposed to this politically proposed war. Besides we are laden in war debt that China and other countries are no longer buying—in view of our massive $159.6 trillion dollar and growing daily national debt.  Our problem is that we do not elect BUSINESS LEADERS—only INEPT POLITICIANS—who keep burying this country to the virtual state of bankruptcy that we are mired in.

posted by: Joebigjoe | September 6, 2013  10:44am

Stan I think its much more than 50% against this action. I might be for it if the rebels didnt have Al Qaeda in their mix. John McCain should be ashamed of himself for his Allah Ahkbar comments and also his ignorance of You Tube videos that have shown Al Qaeda people as part of the rebels, yet he denies it.We arent even certain that it was the government that wanted to do this gassing. There is that intercepted call of the defense minister going nuts when he realized that gas had been used. He was obviously not in the loop.

I think we need to take a different stand on the use of WMD’s. We will strategically pin point bomb what we believe to be key military locations isnt going to scare anyone. We will drop a nuke up your you know what will scare people. What people? The good people that surround every evil leader around the world that are there to help their families survive and have a better life. They arent all evil or nuts but are playing politics and swearing allegiance to someone they wish would drop dead. Make them think that this will be the result and they’ll turn on the evil leader rather than allow their city to be leveled. Its no fun to be dead.

posted by: Stan Muzyk | September 6, 2013  8:09pm

JoeBigJoe: You are absolutely correct when you say more than 50% of Americans are against this Pentagon contrived push for military involvement in Syria. I agree with your appraisal of John McCain—but the political novice that defeated McCain in a presidential election is now badly calling the shots. It’s sad that we keep looking for trouble that we can’t pay for.  “Money we don’t have is no object” and our $159.6 trillion dollar massive deficit keeps growing daily—with no effort being made to stop the fiscal bleeding, The say the world is just a stage—and we are merely actors in it—but we appear to have some bad actors on our national stage.  God bless America.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | September 7, 2013  6:54pm

I haven’t heard any suggestion the Pentagon has any enthusiasm for this. The general who is the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff answered something along the lines of “I don’t know” when asked at the Congressional hearing what the mission was. This is 100% a face-saving exercise for the Amateur-in-Chief.  He has managed to alienate our allies and has been made a fool of by Putin and others. If we had a true leader, who we could trust to rally our allies, take down Assad, the Islamic supremacist rebels in Syria, and Iran, then let’s go.  This guy can only ‘mess’ it up even worse.  God Help Us.

posted by: art vandelay | September 8, 2013  9:33pm

art vandelay

Neville Chamberlain was a first class negotiator with Hitler in Munich compared to our illustrious president.

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