MURPHY STATEMENT ON DECISION TO VOTE AGAINST ARMING AND TRAINING SYRIAN REBELS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement on his decision to vote against arming and training Syrian rebels.

I continue to believe that President Obama has laid out a strong case for taking the fight to ISIL. I agree with his decision to launch airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, to compel new leadership in Iraq to achieve political reconciliation with moderate Sunnis, and to put together a broad, international military coalition. The president has shown true, decisive leadership in the fight against ISIL and I applaud him for his strength and resolve.

I simply don't believe an effective strategy to combat ISIL requires America to get more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war. First, the moderate Syrian rebels have shown a disturbing willingness to join forces with Islamic extremists like the Al Nusra Front, a wing of Al Qaeda, and it will be nearly impossible to stop the rebels we train from joining forces with groups that pose a real threat to the United States. Second, it will be hard to thread the needle of supporting a majority Shiite regime against Sunni extremists in Iraq while, at the same time, supporting a largely Sunni insurgency against a Shiite leader in Syria. Third, I believe we are too optimistic that the American trained rebels will target ISIL when their true enemy inside Syria is Bashar al-Assad. Asking a minimally trained army to take on two barbaric foes at once seems unrealistic.

Aside from today’s vote, I remain disappointed that Congress is going to recess for the election without taking up an explicit authorization of the Administration's full strategy. I still firmly maintain that Congress needs to authorize this new war against ISIL as I do not believe the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed in the days following September 11th grants the president the power to conduct an open ended, long-term war against ISIL. As the mouthpiece of the American people, Congress has an obligation to fulfill its Constitutional duty and debate the president’s proposal for military action, and my only solace is the growing bipartisan commitment, supported by the president, to have this debate later this year.