Tennessee’s Federal Delegation on the Use of Force in Syria

US CapitolLast week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7-1 to send the idea of using force in Syria to the full Senate for a vote. This week the House and Senate return from the August recess. Both chambers will take up the issue.

The president, for his part has been interviewed by all the major networks and takes to the air tonight to address the American people on the matter.

I contacted each of Tennessee’s federal Senators and Representatives and the GOP challengers for Senator Alexander and Congressman DesJarlais requesting a statement on the matter. Here are their responses.

Lamar Alexander – (R-TN)

I will vote ‘no’ because of too much uncertainty about what comes next. After step A, what will be steps B, C, D and E?  I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict. There should be other ways, more appropriate to America’s vital national security interests, to discourage and show our disgust with the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people.

Joe Carr – (R Challenger to Lamar Alexander)

I oppose the Military Strikes against Syria for one main reason. No definable imminent threat to the United States has been shown to exist that would cause us to attack a sovereign nation. We should not be going into foreign war unless a threat to our country exists.

To top it all off, it is absolutely cruel to think this administration is going to be asking the Senate to authorize military action on the 12th anniversary of 9-11 which if approved, would result in assisting Al Qaeda, the very terrorists who carried out the attack 12 years ago on September 11th.

Bob Corker – (R-TN)

It is especially important that Congress is playing its constitutional role on behalf of the American people in deciding whether or not to authorize military action in Syria. No one wants the U.S. mired down in another conflict. Not responding to the Assad regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons poses real risks for U.S. foreign policy and our interests in the region. These circumstances call for a surgical, proportional response, under strict limitations. The resolution that passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee significantly restricts the president’s original request, preventing authorization for boots on the ground for combat operations and limiting the duration of any military action to 60 days plus another possible 30 if the president comes back to Congress. As we now move to the full Senate for debate, the president as commander-in-chief must make a convincing case to the American people for what is at stake for the U.S. in Syria and why the limited use of force is necessary to protect our country’s interests. It’s unfortunate that the lack of a clearly communicated Syria policy and the president’s own indecisiveness have so far led to such a muddled response on this important issue.

Phil Roe – (R-TN01)

Last week, President Obama announced that, after his national security team deliberated for weeks about the best course of action in Syria, he had decided the United States should engage militarily in Syria because of evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people. The President’s case is entitled to a fair hearing from all of us because when it comes to matters of war and peace, we are Americans first. So when I return to Washington next week, I will review the classified documents about the Syrian government’s use of these weapons. Knowing what I know now, however, I do not think engagement in Syria is warranted or in our country’s national interest. (See expanded statement here)

Jimmy Duncan – (R-TN02)

I am opposed to us getting involved in another war in the Middle East.  We do not have the authority under our Constitution or even under international law to get involved in a civil war in another country.

While what is going on in Syria is very sad, if we keep getting into situations like this, we will be in a state of almost permanent war. (See expanded statement here)

Chuck Fleischmann – (R-TN03)

Having spoken to constituents across the third district, they have made it clear that they are war weary.  While the actions taken by the Assad regime are absolutely deplorable, we must have a clear objective before engaging in military action.  I applaud President Obama for engaging Congress, but we have not seen comprehensive plan from him.  I will continue to listen to my constituents and review materials as we approach this critical vote.

Scott DesJarlais – (R-TN04)

After reviewing the classified information and watching administration officials testify in both the House and Senate, I am even more convinced that my original and total opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria is the correct path. I will continue to work on building a bipartisan coalition in the House to defeat any legislation authorizing President Obama to commit  American forces in Syria’s civil war.

Jim Tracy – (R Challenger for TN04)

There is no doubt the Assad regime’s willingness to use chemical weapons is unacceptable and that his growing dependence on Iran is a threat to stability in the Middle East. But President Obama’s weak and ineffective approach over the last few years in this part of the world continues to weaken our nation’s stature overseas. That weakened stature is why Assad ignored President Obama in the first place. The President “leads” from behind and when he inches toward action, he does so without a clear sense of purpose or an attainable conclusion. This administration, at this point in time, cannot be trusted with an authorization of military force in Syria. Congress should reject the President’s ill-conceived, ill-timed request. (See expanded statement here)

Jim Cooper – (D-TN05)

I have attended classified briefings on Syria, and they’ve raised more questions than answers. I haven’t made up my mind. I’m extremely leery of U.S. military involvement, and I won’t decide how to vote until I see the specifics of the resolution.

Diane Black – (R-TN06)

Our Constitution delegates the responsibility to declare war to Congress, and I am glad that the President is seeking our authorization before entering into military action in Syria. There are serious concerns and questions that must be addressed, and I look forward to reviewing and debating this issue as it comes before the House.

Marsha Blackburn – (R-TN07)

To reach a decision, I have visited extensively with constituents who have family or have lived in region; military personnel and their families, military retirees – many who have been active in military intelligence; and members of our Kurdish community who have themselves faced such vile treatment. I have met with parents of young children who have watched the events in the Middle East with interest and fear, individuals who support Christians in the region, and defenders of Israel.

After being briefed by administration officials and having the opportunity to review the intelligence reports, it is my opinion that President Obama has not made a case for how and why US military action in Syria is in our own national interest.  I am concerned that US military action in Syria will result in another extended involvement in the Middle East and this is unwise.

This administration has not been able to articulate a plan as to how they would implement the use of military force. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I will not vote to put the lives of our troops at risk without a clearly defined mission, an execution strategy and an exit strategy.”

Stephen Fincher – (R-TN08)

Did not respond to request.

Steve Cohen – (D-TN09)

Did not respond to request.

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  • Commander_Chico

    WTF is wrong with Corker? He must be too close to Huckleberry Graham.

  • jim_m

    I guess OFA’s new kickstarter plan for WWIII hasn’t taken root yet with the TN delegation.

  • Frankly, I’m glad to see Assad going “Oh, you want my chemical weapons? Here ya go!”

    We REALLY don’t need to get involved in their civil war, and I’ll be honest here and say that as long as he doesn’t use chemical weapons outside his country, we shouldn’t get involved. Apparently it’s just fine to use bombs and bullets to slaughter your own people, but beyond the pale to kill them with chemical weapons?

    Dead is dead.

    If he uses chem weapons on any neighbor – then that’s a completely different matter… as it would be if he was attacking them with conventional munitions. But if we wouldn’t get involved when he was bombing his own people, (aside from a ’tisk, isn’t that regrettable’) it isn’t our business if he used chem. (And there’s apparently considerable doubt now whether HE was the one used it.)

    Wall off the whole damn area, let them sort it out.

    • LiberalNightmare

      So now we have a lst minute solution to save Obama’s presidency, but 5 years from now this is going to look a lot more like the iraq situation than anybody wants to think about.

      Does anyone seriously think that syria is going to give up those weapons?

      • jim_m

        The deal is not that they give them up. The deal is that they “place them under international control”, which means that the Russians will certify that they are not going to be used, which means nothing changes at all but it makes obama look like an ass for making the situation what it is.

        This is offering obama a way out and he’d better take it. He’s been totally played by Putin but his sycophants will trumpet this as a masterful coup by the super genius.

        • LiberalNightmare

          Yeah – Obama has Putin right where he wants him sarc

          • Damn this imagination of mine. Ugh.

            “Won’t you even do a reacharound, Vlad?”

        • Brucehenry

          Well, this guy is a pretty eloquent “sycophant”:


          Before you blow a fuse, I don’t necessarily agree with every word this guy writes. But he has points to make( that you will dismiss, I’m sure).

          ADDING: Read a few of the comments too, sorted oldest first.

          • jim_m

            No you’re an idiot. This is not a victory and everyone in the world knows it except for his ass kissers.. This is Putin demonstrating that he can make obama dance on the world stage.

            Glenn Reynolds sums it up pretty well:

            Obama may be able to sell this as a win to low-information voters, but the DC establishment — in both parties — knows better and will adjust its estimation of Obama, and its plans for the future, accordingly. As, of course, will our friends, and our enemies, abroad.

          • Brucehenry

            Predictable. No one’s opinion is valid if it differs from your jingoistic Obama-hatin’. They’re all idiots, I tells ya! Here we see Wingnuttia in all its glory.

            This is what’s wrong with political discourse in this country today. Not only are your opponents wrong, they’re “idiots” or they’re “low information voters.” If that doesn’t work they’re treasonous or disloyal. You can never allow that the other guy can be right even part of the time, about any issue.

            ADDING: Hilarious that the same guys who bewail rule by “elites” are the same guys who know better than the “low information voters.” Do they know what the word “elite” means?

          • jim_m

            Notice that low information voters are differentiated from both right and left as it was remarked that both sides of the aisle knew obama had failed. So if anyone is being hyperpartisan here it is you.

            And since when is low information a bar from being in the elite? obama seems to have managed that trick quite comfortably.

          • LiberalNightmare

            I don’t think that its Jim’s job to allow you to be right. Your supposed to be able to prove that your right, like a big boy.

          • Brucehenry

            No, you’re right, but he IS supposed to be able to say something more relevant than “No you’re an idiot Obama sucks.”

            Jim says nothing about Cohen’s analogy to 1962. Says nothing about how this may have been the outcome most desirable. says nothing about how now the ball is in Putin’s court — Putin is effectively now responsible for Assad’s good behavior.

            Instead he repeats what he read on Glenn Reynold’s — noted genius — site, and insists it is truer than Corinthians, I guess just because Glenn Reynolds said it and it’s something that fits his view of Obama.

          • jim_m

            If you think that Putin has taken any responsibility for Assad or that the international community will hold him responsible you’re an ass. Plus Putin has already withdrawn his request for a security council meeting which means that there will not be any official responsibility for Russia in the first place.

            You see, Bruce, your conception of human nature and diplomacy never matured beyond 6th grade. That’s why you fall for this crap. You fell for obama’s BS, you believed that his foreign policy was going to herald in a new golden age of peace. I don’t have to address the BS in some column that espouses the ignorant and debunked philosophy of obama cultism.

            You have posted several links to idiotic columns claiming that 1) obama’s failure to get anyone to follow him or to create any coalition to do anything (even in Libya he followed France, he didn’t lead) is actually Bush’s fault and 2) that obama has actually won this issue over Syria by getting Putin to take no responsibility and do nothing to stop Syria from doing anything.

            So why would I take such ridiculous ideas seriously? Why should I not show them the contempt they deserve? You can whine all you like to your obamabot friends that mean Jim is not taking your arguments seriously. Too bad. Present a serious argument and I will take it seriously. Even Chico admits that this is an epic failure for obama but you have drank so much of the kool aid that you can’t even do that.

            You are the rube you are looking for.

          • Brucehenry

            Both of the links I recently posted were for you and other readers to peruse and see that, whether they agreed with them or not, there was a logic to them. They started with a logical premise, explained why that premise had merit, and then concluded following the same logic. I specifically said, in the first instance, that the “Bush-poisoned-fruit” explanation the guy was positing was not the FULL explanation for the world’s reluctance to follow Obama into a military adventure in the ME, but there was SOME merit to his claim. You refused to admit the possibility under any circumstances.

            In the second instance, I was showing you that there was an alternative explanation that didn’t follow the “Putin’s-screwing-Obama” meme that seemed to be fast becoming the conventional wisdom — conventional wisdom that you are only too happy to accept unquestioningly because it fits your notion of Obama as inept and weak.

            In both cases I was simply trying to get you to stop frothing at the mouth for five fucking minutes and see that other people — good, loyal Americans and Western-oriented British political writers — could make a case that differed from your world view.

            In bygone times a person involved in a political discussion might pause and address the issues raised by an alternate explanation. But nowadays wingnuts can’t be bothered — it’s “You’re an idiot” as the first response.

          • jim_m

            Yes, yes. You are backing down now to say that Bush is only partially at fault. Whatever. You are still deeply deluded and living in a fantasy world.

          • Brucehenry

            Reread the thread Mr Amnesiac.

          • Sod off.

          • jim_m

            Here’s my reply to your link: A link of my own

            obama is a fraud.

            1) He claims that Syria is a national security threat but cannot explain how or why.

            2) He has no plan and his Secy of State cannot rule out bots on the ground that obama says are impossible.

            3) He claims that gas wasn’t used until 8/22 despite evidence that it was used before but somehow THAT use changes things and none of the murder of innocent civilians by conventional means bothers him in the least, which demonstrates that this isn’t about saving people but about saving obama’s reputation (which has been lost anyway because he has screwed this up)

            4)After denying the concept of American Exceptionalism for his entire life and campaigning against it for 5+ years in his Presidency the Hypocrite in chief evokes it as the reason we must act now to save his reputation.

            Why should anyone give credence to this jerk? Why do you expect us to take you seriously when you ask us to reflect on history when you cannot even remember the last 5 years?

          • Brucehenry

            Obama has never derided the notion of American exceptionalism. He has ridiculed the jingoistic rantings of Sarah Palin and, to a lesser extent, McCain.

          • jim_m

            BS. He has denied it and his admin has denied it multiple times. The left is built on the notion that the US is not different from any other nation but rather that it is WORSE than any other nation in the world and is responsible for every evil in the world since 1776.

          • jim_m

            Sorry Bruce, but comparing Syria to nukes in Cuba that would have been poised to obliterate millions of Americans is silly. If obama stared anyone down it was his own reflection in the mirror. You should be embarrassed for giving such a comparison any credence.

          • Racist idiot.


          • Commander_Chico

            Of course Glenn Reynolds is for bombing Syria. isn’t he?

            It’s not a matter of looking tough, like some schoolyard beef.

            If we stay out of it, that’s a win for the American people.

          • Wrong on the facts, as usual.

          • Commander_Chico

            Well, that’s the first war that chickenhawk is opposing, then.

          • If, as you claim, you’re a retired officer, you are still a member (on reduced pay for reduced services) and thus are not allowed to comment on such political matters by regulation (and tradition).

          • jim_m

            Like John Kerry, if Chico ever really served, he is a disgrace to our armed services since he clearly hates America and implies quite clearly that nearly every campaign our military has conducted is by definition a war crime.

          • Commander_Chico

            I guess I’ll have to bear your armchair opprobrium, as I bear your armchair generalship.

          • jim_m

            Oh the trials of living in a democracy. Perhaps you should move to Venezuela where you wouldn’t have to worry about such things.

          • Commander_Chico

            What, like John McCain, CAPT (ret)?

            Heck, I think Lindsay Graham is still doing annual active duty. So is Scott Brown.

            Gen Smedley Butler went on a national tour after retirement giving his “War is a Racket” speech.

            Ridiculous. [citation required on the “regulation”]

          • jim_m

            You just cited two individuals who stand as proof that former military should never be allowed to opine on matters of national security. Well done.

          • Another strike against John McCain is that unlike Eisenhower, he did not resign prior to running for office.

            But we were talking about you, oh soi disant veteran and cognoscenti… And we will return to this subject every time you throw the chickenhawk card.

            As regards citations:


            1. 2 USC 441a (limitations on the amount of political contributions).

            2. 5 USC 3303 (rules on the role of political recommendations in Federal personnel actions).

            3. The Hatch Act, 5 USC 7321-7326 (restrictions on political activity by Federal civilian employees).

            4. 10 USC 973 (no military officer may campaign for or hold civil office).

            5. 18 USC 210 (no offering anything of value in consideration for the use or promise of use of influence to procure appointive office).

            6. 18 USC 211 (no soliciting or accepting anything of value to obtain public office for another).

            7. 18 USC 592 (no assembling troops at polls).

            8. 18 USC 593 (no election interference by armed forces).

            9. 18 USC 594 (no intimidating, threatening, or coercing voters in Federal elections).

            10. 18 USC 595 (no use of official authority to interfere with a Federal election)

            11. 18 USC 596 (no polling of armed forces).

            12. 18 USC 597 (no paying or receiving of pay to vote or withhold vote).

            13. 18 USC 600 (no promising employment, compensation, or benefits from Federal funds in exchange for political activity).

            14. 18 USC 601 (no deprivation or threat of deprivation of employment in exchange for political contributions).

            15. 18 USC 602 (no solicitation of fellow Federal employees for campaign contributions).

            16. 18 USC 603 (no contributing to any other Federal employee who is the contributor’s employer or employing authority).

            17. 18 USC 604 (no soliciting or receiving political contributions from persons on Federal relief or work relief).

            18. 18 USC 605 (no disclosing or receiving lists or names of persons on relief for political purposes).

            19. 18 USC 606 (no intimidating employees to give or withhold a political contribution).

            20. 18 USC 607 (no solicitation or receipt of contributions in any room occupied in discharge of official duties, or in any navy yard, fort, or arsenal).

            21. 18 USC 608 (no interference with rights under Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act).

            22. 18 USC 609 (no use of military authority to influence votes of other military members).

            23. 18 USC 610 (no coercing Federal employees to engage in, or not to engage in, any political activity).

            24. 18 USC 1913 (restrictions on use of public funds for lobbying).

            Federal regulations:
            5 CFR Part 734 (regulations implementing the Hatch Act).

          • Commander_Chico

            Call the FBI on McCain and Huckleberry Graham, then, they must be much more in violation than I am.

            And I’ve never assembled troops at the polls.

            I don’t see any law against retired reserve officers commenting on blogs in your long list of irrelevant laws.

            One of the most eloquent commentators on American foreign policy is Col. (ret) Andrew Bacevich. His son was killed in Iraq.


          • Hey soi disant veteran, you can prefer charges. Why haven’t you?

          • Commander_Chico

            Because I know retired and reserve officers have full First Amendment rights when not on active duty.

            You’re the fool saying otherwise – you call the FBI.

          • No stones, but we already knew that.

          • Hey fracktard Commander, you should also note that McCain never refers to himself by his rank.

          • Well, fracktard? File charges yet?

          • jim_m

            Fascist jackass.

          • jim_m

            No, actually he is not for intervention. If I were Bruce I would whine about your not reading his site, but that isn’t the point.

          • jim_m

            If there is any doubt that Putin totally played obama it should be laid to rest by his withdrawal of the request for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Russian plan to put Syrian Chem weapons under international control.

            SO obama gets nothing. No vote by Congress, not international control of Syrian WMD’s. He gets BF’d publicly by Putin and the whole world is witness.

            You know obama lost this one, he showed up to his presser on time for the first time in 5+ years.

          • Will Obamian victory replace Pyrrhic Victory?

          • jim_m

            Probably since history began with George W. Bush, the left and media (BIRM) don’t know anything about the ancient world. (ancient world to Bruce and his ilk is the Reagan admin)

          • Brucehenry

            “The left and the media (BIRM)” is the SECOND tiredest cliche on the Internet, right behind “You have reading comprehension problems.”

          • Third behind everything you have written.

          • Brucehenry

            Thanks, Mr Potshot!

          • No thanks required, you EARNED that one.

          • Brucehenry

            You’re on a roll, you should keep this up, it’s awesome.

          • Try the veal, be sure to tip your waitstaff.

          • jim_m

            I think I started the reading comprehension meme on this blog. I’m rather flattered.

            If you find them tired you should probably ask why it seems that both of these are so true.

            Are you now claiming that the media does not tilt left? I would love to hear your idiotic ramblings to support that.

          • Brucehenry

            The reading comprehension schtick is on EVERY blog you egomaniac.

            No I guess much of the media can fairly be accused of at least some leftward tilt. It;s the shopworn cliche that grates on my nerves.

          • jim_m

            My heart bleeds for you that you have to be confronted by the truth.

          • Retired military

            I am afraid that Putin has done nothing but thrown Obama a rope which he is holding with one hand and threatening to cut it with a knife in the other.
            Obama doesn’t care about the outcome as long as he looks like he is doing something. Look at the “grand plan” which suddenly was in place all along even after Kerry and State dept said “hey we weren’t serious about this being a plan”
            Obama is a tool and Putin knows how to use him to Putin’s best advantage.

            I went to the site and read some of the comments as well Bruce. Man I had to leave. Those folks are delusional in their worship of Obama.

            “The best of every President”

            Geez. I need a drink.

          • Brucehenry

            Yes that is the conventional wisdom. That’s what Cohen was saying in the article I linked to — that the conventional wisdom was mistaken. I asked Jim to read it with an open mind. Should have known better.

          • jim_m

            Sometimes the conventional wisdom is right. When both left and right are admitting that this is an unmitigated disaster then perhaps the reality is that it is a disaster and those denying it are the imbeciles that are holding on to fantasy and obama’s cult of personality.

          • No fool like a racist fool.

          • LiberalNightmare

            On the other hand, it is nice to be proven right on such a grand scale.

          • Under Putin’s bus.

            How fitting. As he has sown, now he reaps.

          • LiberalNightmare

            Nice article – the author must be hoping that Obama will sign his kneepads.

    • Retired military

      a. What makes you think they will turn them all over?
      b. What makes you think that they cant make more?
      c. What makes you think Russia will do anything other than delay delay delay which gives Assad more time to kill the rebels?
      In short, I don’t trust Putin or Assad. To bad I don’t trust Obama more than either of them.

      • a. I don’t.

        b. They probably will.

        c. Most likely scenario, actually.

        It’s buying time. Time for Obama to MAYBE realize he’s been wrong about how wonderful his pronouncements are, time for him to realize he’s in over his head, time for him to look at his advisors that got him in this mess and go “Get your fucking asses out, and find someone that’s got a fucking clue about the ME, because you assholes don’t.”

        Not that he’ll do that last, of course – he’s too well trained to upset his handlers like that…

        And it’s buying time so that more and more people are looking at him, expecting him to do something wonderful and Presidential, and slowly they’re realizing they might as well stare at a goldfish and expect it to sprout wings.

        Sometimes the best thing you can hope for is time.

        I watched his speech tonight – he seemed more like an unconvincing used car salesman, trying reluctantly to get you to buy a lemon so he could make a sales quota than a President.

        The unblinking stare… he knows he’s in trouble, and he hasn’t a clue how to get out of it.

        • LiberalNightmare

          He always sounds like that.

          The problem is that dems have let him get away with it for so long that Obama actually believes his own bullshit.

          • Does he?

            I’m not so sure. The man I saw last night, and I’ll admit this might be projection on my part, was a man who knew he was in deep trouble. Not “OMG, I’m gonna die” trouble, but a guy who maybe could change a flat on a good day (and brag about it to his friends later) being faced with a massive pile of parts and told to build a functioning Formula 1 race car… in 24 hours.

            With no manual, and the only advisors he’s got are the guys who thought that changing a tire is all you need to be an automotive expert.

            He doesn’t know what to do. He’s never had to deal with stuff at this sort of level, and he can’t even blame Bush for it – this is entirely his own doing.

  • ackwired

    Sounds like Tennessee learned something from Iraq.

    • Sounds more like Tennessee has seen this president in action, and found him wanting.