House Speaker John Boehner (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

House Speaker John Boehner asks President Barack Obama to discuss use of military force on Syria

a a a a
Share this story
Show Related Headlines
Related Articles
How possible US attack on Syria could unfold
Obama: Syria used chemical weapons on civilians
Syria sends Cincinnati gas prices higher
Futures inch higher as Syrian tension escalates
UK to give UN resolution condemning Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Speaker John Boehner called on President Barack Obama on Wednesday to deliver a specific rationale for using U.S. military force against Syria as a growing number of congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns about war with a Mideast nation roiled by civil conflict.

In a letter to the president, the Ohio Republican underscored that he has been supportive of administration policy to date as Obama has called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign and insisted that the use of deadly chemical weapons would be a gross violation of international norms.

Boehner wrote that in light of the administration's contention that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its people, Obama should provide "a clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action - which is a means, not a policy - will secure U.S. objectives."

The administration signaled Wednesday that it would act against the Syrian government even without the backing of allies or the United Nations in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital last week. The United States has not presented proof publicly, but Obama said his administration has concluded that the Assad government carried out the large-scale attack on civilians.

Obama said he had not made a decision about how the United States would respond.

The administration was planning a teleconference briefing Thursday on Syria for leaders of the House and Senate and national security committees, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

Boehner asked Obama to "personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve American credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy."

The speaker also pressed the president to provide a legal justification for any U.S. military action. There was no immediate reaction from the White House to Boehner's request.

In the House, 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats have signed a letter to Obama demanding that he seek congressional authorization for any military action against Syria. The letter written by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., argues that intervention without a direct threat to the United States and without Congress' approval would be unconstitutional.

Washington Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, cautioned that an attack might be ineffective and draw the United States into the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.

"Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of `doing something' will not secure our interests in Syria," Smith said in a statement.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he informed the administration that he could not support any military strike against Syria unless Obama presents a detailed strategy to Congress and provides a defense budget to support any action.

An increasing number of Republicans and Democrats insist that Congress should have a vote on whether to authorize any military steps against Syria, dismissing the notion that the commander in chief can act unilaterally and ignoring Congress' constitutional power to declare war.

"The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said.

In his letter, Boehner raised 14 questions that he asked Obama to answer, including what the administration would do if Syria retaliates against U.S. allies in the region, whether the administration would launch additional military strikes if the initial ones proved ineffective and what was the intended effect of such a step.

Boehner alluded to the 10-plus years of fighting in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the need for the administration to have strong public and congressional support for U.S. involvement in a Mideast war.

"Our military, as well as their families, deserve to have the confidence that we collectively have their backs - and a thorough strategy in place," the speaker wrote.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Politics News
Waynesville mayor has modest political hopes
Waynesville mayor has modest political hopes

Dave Stubbs aims to survive (his) term as mayor of the historical city and still be on speaking terms with his friends and neighbors.

Did political shenanigans nix heroin bill?
Did political shenanigans nix heroin bill?

As political and business leaders sort through the aftermath of 2014 Kentucky General Assembly, some are wondering whether an effort to help…

RNC team to visit Cincinnati late April
RNC team to visit Cincinnati late April

The two Ohio cities still in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention will be visited in late April by party staff or…

Kasich touts jobs record, talks about big issues
Kasich touts jobs record, talks about big issues

Ohio Gov. John Kasich touted his record of creating jobs and talked about big issues for the Cincinnati area in an exclusive interview with WCPO.

Judge: Ohio must recognize legal gay marriages
Judge: Ohio must recognize legal gay marriages

A federal judge says he will strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, meaning the state must recognize marriages of gay…

Boehner buys TV ad time in his Ohio district
Boehner buys TV ad time in his Ohio district

House Speaker John Boehner is spending $125,000 on television ads in his Ohio district to fend off three fellow Republicans in the primary.

Ohioans closer to hunting with gun silencers
Ohioans closer to hunting with gun silencers

Members of the Ohio House of Representatives have voted in favor of a local politician's bill that would allow hunters to use silencers…

US created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest?
US created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest?

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media…

Reading mayor's roots are 3 generations deep
Reading mayor's roots are 3 generations deep

Bo Bemmes is proud of Reading's claim to fame as home of John Boehner--not to mention the world's largest bridal district.

Pause in streetcar construction cost city $1M
Pause in streetcar construction cost city $1M

A nearly three-week pause in streetcar construction in December cost Cincinnati almost $1 million, city officials said Tuesday.