News / USA

Former US Presidential Candidate Supports Limited Strike in Syria

Huntsman Supports Limited Strike Against Syriai
X
September 05, 2013 10:22 AM
As the U.S. Congress and the American public debate military action against Syria, President Obama says the Syrian government has violated international norms by using chemical weapons against its own people. Many in Washington agree, among them Jon Huntsman, who campaigned to be the commander-in-chief in the last U.S. presidential election. Natalie Liu has more from Washington.
Natalie Liu
As the U.S. Congress and the American public debate what ought to be done with Syria, President Obama said a red line has been crossed by the Syrian government. He says it's not his red line, but a red line that violates international norms.  Many in Washington agree, among them Jon Huntsman, one of the Republican contenders for the White House in the last presidential election.  

Jon Huntsman was governor of the western state Utah when he was appointed by President Obama to be the top diplomat in Beijing.
 
“There isn’t an easy set of policy choices here, there is no good answer, but you have to recognize the circumstances for what they are, and that is, a threshold has been crossed and there has to be some response to that,” Huntsman told VOA in an interview conducted at his home in Washington.

While acknowledging the toll that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have exerted on the American public, Huntsman says to do nothing would send the most unfortunate message.

“Recognizing where we have been in the last 13 years in terms of boots on the ground, regime change, pre-emptive measures, a lot of the approaches that were taken in the past while that proved to be very costly and hurtful to U.S. prestige and standing abroad, I think we have to learn from those lessons while at the same time, we do have to recognize that chemical weapons have been used here,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, in noting the administration’s decision to take action in Syria, said administration officials, himself included, are aware of the war weariness many Americans feel: “we know that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war.  Believe me, I am, too.  But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.”

The shadow of Iraq has not only affected American public opinion, but is also seen as having led to the British Parliament’s decision to not join in the coalition this time around.  But some analysts say “not all is Afghanistan or Iraq,” and the circumstances that are prompting the White House’s decision to intervene in Syria are very different from the attack on Iraq back in 2003 over allegations - which later turned out to not have been substantiated - that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Jeffrey Pryce, a former Pentagon official who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, described the difference as “night and day.”

In the case of Syria, Pryce pointed out, intelligence gathering precedes military action, instead of the other way around, and there is plenty of proof that Syria’s government was behind the August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.

“You have that coming from several different sources, including European intelligence; you have the Arab League stating pretty unequivocally that this is something for which they hold the Assad regime accountable,” Pryce said in an interview.

President Obama’s decision to seek approval from Congress for an attack on Syria has surprised many.  Critics say it is a decision made out of political - rather than national security - considerations.

Huntsman, for one, disagrees with the approach.

“So if I were sitting at the White House, I think I would have consulted the National Security advisers, briefed all of the relevant committee chairs and minority members, and done what I thought is right for the United States - I don’t think a vote is needed in this case," he said.

Huntsman said he’s familiar with the battle between the Legislature and Executive branches, because of his experience serving as governor of Utah.

“My fear is that you set a precedent and Congress begins to take a little more authority away from that which is duly reserved for the Executive branch, and the next time you have a similar set of circumstances, Congress will expect to take a vote again, and that takes time away from the Executive branch, it changes their strategy in terms of how you now have to fashion the issue for Congress - maybe not for other constituencies," said Huntsman.

Huntsman believes it remains a prerogative of the presidency to act based on consultations alone with Congress, “and then to get about the business of the country.”

President Obama Wednesday defended his decision to seek congressional approval for a limited strike against the Assad regime in Syria.
 
“The fact that I’ve had a chance to speak to many of you, and Congress as a whole is taking this issue with the soberness and seriousness that it deserves, is greatly appreciated and I think vindicates the decision for us to present this issue to Congress," the president said.

Until now,  Obama has been criticized by some for his reluctance to get involved in the Syrian civil war.  Pryce said that makes his call to arms more credible.  “I think that he’s seen as a reluctant warrior, and that’s probably a strength at this point.”

While speaking to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the gravity of individual members' decisions.
 
“The world is watching not just to see what we decide, but it is watching to see how we make this decision - whether in a dangerous world we can still make our government speak with one voice,” Kerry warned.

Huntsman agreed that choices made in Washington reverberate regionally and globally.
 
“This, unlike some of the other conflicts that we’ve waged in years gone by, is connected to different players in the region who have an interest in the outcome, and the outcome could very well determine what they choose to do in terms of how they move the pieces on the chess board,” he said.
 
The White House has described its intended military action against the Assad regime in Syria as “limited” and “proportional,” and does not involve American troops on the ground.  Whether the White House can persuade Congress - and the American public - to go along - remains to be seen.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid counter-terror intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid