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(Washington) – Congressman Jason Smith (MO-08) has announced he does not support using American military force in Syria.

Smith announced his decision in a guest column for the Southeast Missourian newspaper. Smith’s column reads in part:

“America’s goal in any war should be to win. To date, President Obama has not been able to adequately define what victory would look like in military conflict with Syria. The best picture painted by the Obama Administration appears to be that of a stalemate. If the administration cannot define victory to the American people, to military leaders or to the troops who will be charged with striking Syria, then we should not use military force.”

Smith raised numerous questions that he says have not been answered by the Obama Administration.

“President Obama has not been able to answer questions raised by myself and others about military involvement in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is obviously no friend to the United States, but would toppling his government make the Middle East even more unstable? We do not know if the rebels fighting Assad would be our allies, we do not know if they will respect Israel’s right to exist, if they will tolerate Christians and we do not know if the rebels will defend American interests. If military force is so urgent, where are our allies and why have they not committed to use military force? These questions deserve to be fully answered before American troops are drug into another conflict in the Middle East.”

Below is Smith’s full guest column, courtesy of the Southeast Missourian newspaper:

Why I Will Not Support Military Action in Syria

America’s goal in any war should be to win. To date, President Obama has not been able to adequately define what victory would look like in military conflict with Syria. The best picture painted by the Obama Administration appears to be that of a stalemate. If the administration cannot define victory to the American people, to military leaders or to the troops who will be charged with striking Syria, then we should not use military force.

Historically, the United States has gone to war when our nation, or our national interests, were attacked or threatened. To date, Syria has not attacked the United States and they have not threatened to attack the United States. Said in another way, Syria does not currently present any clear national security concerns to our nation. We should not put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way without good reason.

President Obama has not been able to answer questions raised by myself and others about military involvement in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is obviously no friend to the United States, but would toppling his government make the Middle East even more unstable? We do not know if the rebels fighting Assad would be our allies, we do not know if they will respect Israel’s right to exist, if they will tolerate Christians and we do not know if the rebels will defend American interests. If military force is so urgent, where are our allies and why have they not committed to use military force? These questions deserve to be fully answered before American troops are drug into another conflict in the Middle East.

While the Obama Administration has requested congressional input before using force in Syria, they have also said the president does not need approval for military action. I sincerely hope that President Obama listens to the will of the American people, expressed by their representatives in Congress, and does not act unilaterally in Syria.

The first article of the Constitution gives Congress, and Congress alone, the authority to declare war. The wisdom of our Founding Fathers is clear. Congress is the ‘check and balance’ on the Executive branch before war can be declared.

Soon the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution to give President Obama the ability to use force in Syria. Over the past few weeks my office has received hundreds of calls, letters and emails urging me to vote against the resolution. Additionally, I have personally heard from countless families in Southern Missouri who oppose military involvement in Syria. You have spoken, and I have listened.

Because victory cannot be defined, because Syria poses no direct threat to the United States, because our allies are not using force, because the American people do not have answers as to what would happen in the Middle East after a use of American force, and because my constituents do not want to get involved in a prolonged military conflict, I will vote against authorizing military force in Syria.

-Congressman Jason Smith, Missouri’s 8th Congressional District

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