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Runyan: 'Strong Concerns' About Military Action in Syria

Congressman says U.S. involvement must be fully debated

Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) in Lacey Township. (Patch File Photo)
Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) in Lacey Township. (Patch File Photo)
Congressman Jon Runyan said Tuesday that he has "strong concerns" about the U.S. engaging in military actions in Syria, though he neither opposed nor endorsed American involvement in the ongoing conflict there.

"First, and most importantly, the senseless slaughter of innocent Syrian men, women, and children seemingly at the hands of their own government is an absolute tragedy," Runyan, a Republican, said in a statement issued Tuesday. "It is something the global community should condemn in the strongest possible terms."

Runyan said he believes President Barack Obama is doing the right thing by seeking congressional authorization before using military force in Syria, and that he was among a number of lawmakers who urged the White House to do so.

He also expressed his own concerns.

"As Congress reviews the evidence and begins debate, I know both Republicans and Democrats will have strong concerns about U.S. engagement in what many view as a civil war, and whether doing so is truly in our national security interests," Runyan said. "Additionally, after weekend briefings with the House Armed Services Committee, I also have strong concerns regarding our Military Readiness based on the fact that billions of dollars have been slashed from the DoD budget - which is just one reason why we must fully debate the issues at hand."

Going forward without such a debate, he said, would be "shortsighted."
Robert Yates September 03, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I would be interested in knowing what Runyan intends to add to the debate being as though he disingenuously claims that has not made up his mind yet. I'll wager my house that he votes in favor of this boneheaded scheme to further destabilize the middle east. Military action should be rejected on three distinct grounds. First, no evidence has been presented that would allow us to assign blame one way or the other (and no: a simple statement saying that Assad is responsible is insufficient as blind trust is certainly something the government is not entitled to) Second, even if Assad is categorically responsible for the attacks, they have no bearing on US nations security. Third, even if they did have a bearing on US national security, a congressional resolution is insufficient to commit US troops to a foreign war. Minus an immediate threat of an attack on our soil (in the US that is not including the 150 or so foreign bases), the President certainly does not have the authority to wage war and Congress (after thorough debate) must declare war. They can not merely pass a resolution. Check out your copy of the Constitution today! Send me a message with your address and I'll be happy to provide you with a copy. Heck, I'll even send one to Runyan so as to assist him in his determination as to whether or not we should kill a whole bunch of people 6,000 miles away. If Runyan has such driving moral compunction to defend the people of Syria, perhaps he should start a nonprofit organization and raise his own money to battle such evil rather than stealing mine. Perhaps I would donate. But in the end, US military action is constitutionally indefensible in this instance.
Robert Yates September 03, 2013 at 04:48 PM
correction line 11: national, not nations.
Chris L September 03, 2013 at 05:41 PM
@Robert Yates, while you make some good strong points on both the facts that he has obviously made up his mind already and that we cant enter any battle until we have both evidence and congressional support, i think your other points are mute and ignorant (not the way that people throw ignorant around now, but more along the lines of you arent thinking about the big picture here). To start with your first point, you are totally correct. Before taking military action there should be published public proof of chemical warfare. While the UN has already started tests and some congressmen claim to have seen confidential reports, we need an open and public discussion. No closed doors. Second. The thought of saying that chemical warfare has no impact on US security is insane. Major terrorist organizations are playing this conflict so they will be the hero. Al queda is part of the rebellion. While i understand that hurting the syrian government would help that group, doing nothing would help them even more. The longer we let these people suffer, the more of them will go radical and eventually turn towards us. Also they will need to purchase guns for a revolution. They will have those guns afterwards. That right there is major threat to the US. My biggest problem with your argument is that because it doesnt directly affect americans, its not our problem. Your mindset is the same reason Hitler was allowed to raise to power, imprison and murder millions of jews, and almost take over all of Europe. The "Its not on my land so its not my problem" mindset is what set up up for pearl harbor and ww2 in general. Our president and I believe our country has decided to take a stand, not only against our enemies but against enemies of humanity. It is our job to ensure that these people have a fighting chance for their freedoms. Dont forget, America needed help during our revolution and the other countries only saw that as a civil war.
Robert Yates September 03, 2013 at 06:33 PM
@Chris L: you are a smart young guy, but I must inform you that it is you that needs to read more history. I can - with almost 100% certainty - assure you that you have not read more on the origins of warfare or current events than I have. Please articulate exactly how Assad's use of chemical weapons affects the national security of the US? Presently we are supplying weapons and other resources to our sworn enemies - al qaeda - who along with their affiliated groups make up a good portion of the rebel force. This might be why US air-force personnel are posting pictures on facebook saying that they did not sign up to be al qaeda's air-force. The US has a history of supplying weapons to people whom they - in time - decide to turn on. Does Iraq ring a bell; how about bin laden and Afghanistan? Hitler did not rise to power and slaughter the jews because of Charles Lindbergh's group America First. He came to power because of the ludicrous terms set forth in the treaty of Versailles. Said treaty (and the massive reparations included therein) lead the Weimar regime to purposely inflate the currency, which caused widespread suffering in Germany. This lead to the election of Hitler. The rest is history so to speak. Read Marine General Smedley Butler's parameterss for going to war. It's instructive and comes from someone who fought for the money interests for many years before seeing the light. I admire your idealism and once possessed it myself. But it is better that you dispossess yourself of it sooner rather than later. If you want the answer to anything, look who is making money off of it and who if gaining power from it. That will likely lead you to the answer.
hardesthit September 03, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Chris, I am of the belief that we do not belong in yet another conflict in the mideast. Many of the people we would be "helping" are the same people who hate us no matter what we do. The difference is the innocent Jewish citizens during WW2 ( where we clearly should have interveined sooner) were not burning our flag and chanting death to America in the streets. Chris, I have 2 sons, one 18 and one 15.....I cannot imagine either of them in a country where we are largely hated , fighting for people who will hate us no matter what we do there. If we keep intervening the way we do, sooner or later, the conflicts will grow to include other countries and there is the possibility of a draft. Think of all the dead and wounded soldiers of the last few conflicts, brothers, sons, fathers, daughters, mothers, enough is enough.We should stay out of this one.
Chris L September 03, 2013 at 07:24 PM
@Yates, i wasnt referring to hitlers rise to power in his own country (which your right was brought on by the mess they were left in after ww1 [which btw our president at the time wanted to help germany rebuild but the groups at the treaty of versailles refused which is why we helped japan after ww2]), I was referring to the US stance on foreign relations before WW2. Our president petitioned for war knowing about the death camps in germany but our nation refused on the idea that "it isnt our people, it isnt our problem". We see that same mindset here. History is full of countries working together who later either hated eachother, but there are just as many countries who worked together after hating eachother (US-France, England-US. England-Franc, Germany and EVERYONE). Groups like Al-queda gain power by using politically rocky areas like this and imposing their mindset due to peopels needs (The same thing hitler did. He gave his people GREAT education so they would follow him). Lets just say for instance that the rebels, being supported by al queda, win. They place their leader in charge. Now we have a nation who not only hates us but who blames us for not helping earlier. Either way we will be hated. (MANY americans would claim they hate america themselves). The point of war and bloodshed shouldnt be to make everyone like us. We shouldnt act out of vanity but act out of what what is right and it IS right to help people in need. Theyve asked us for help. We should help them
Chris L September 03, 2013 at 07:27 PM
@hardesthit As i said before, do u think the japanese were welcoming us when we had to go into japan AFTER bombing them and help them rebuild? Do you think that every american liked the french when they came in and saved our asses during our revolution? I have friends who have gone overseas and its a mixed bag of reactions. Some love america, some hate us. Same as people IN america. With your 2 sons, would you teach them to act bravely and honorably as long as people will like them? or that what is right is right no matter the outcome because thats what this nation was built upon
Joey Joe September 03, 2013 at 08:00 PM
The last thing we need to do is get involved in yet another Middle East country...especially to help out a group of al-Qaeda sponsored rebels. Putting boots on the ground in Syria would be a huge mistake as would putting drones in the air to hit Syrian targets. Unfortunately the Middle East has been in turmoil for what seems like forever. I'm sure Robert can educate me as to how long - he is probably the most read and the most knowledgable. But it seems to me that the sometimes hidden but never forgotten US agenda regarding the Middle East always has revolved around two things... Oil and protecting Israel. I really don't think we could care less about Syria if not for our undying allegiance to Israel. Personaly I don't think we should care now... While so many Americans are subsisting on food stamps, losing their homes, and accumulating credit card debt they will never be able to pay off, the US is giving Israel $3 billion in direct foreign aid every year...and much more in Military equipment we've written off the books as scrap when not. When will we ever learn.. Haven't we stuck our nose into way too many places it never should have been stuck....
Chris L September 03, 2013 at 08:24 PM
So your okay with chem warfare? In fact, from the sounds of it, you dont care what they do as long as it doesnt affect us?
Robert Yates September 03, 2013 at 08:44 PM
@Chris L: who has asked us to help them? al qaeda? Given your premise, where do we draw the line? Shall we invade Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Yemen? How about Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and most of Africa; maybe perhaps Germany for violating the rights of homeschooling parents. Heck, why don't we overthrow our own government, which is a rogue immoral entity in my opinion. Your benign desire for a righteous crusade is unrealistic. There will always be oppressed people. They should rise up and you should help them if you'd like. But entangling alliances and government crusades are a receipt for disaster. Do what is right in your own capacity and by virtue of what you can voluntarily persuade others to get on board with. It is unconstitutional and immoral to force others to pay for wars which do not affect our safety. This is what you are asking us to do and this is a problem. @Joey Joe: great post; oil and Israel appear to be the reason for our involvement. We don't give a rats a-- about what is right; just about what will keep cheap oil flowing and the Israelis' settlements expanding. Anyone interested in some land on the Golan Heights?
proud September 03, 2013 at 08:49 PM
The only opinion that I have on this string is that if we could somehow diplomatically convince the Syrian government to embrace Obamacare-- the WORLD would be better place. Best Regards.
Robert Yates September 03, 2013 at 08:59 PM
I think it is safe to say that neither myself nor Joey Joe are okay with chemical warfare. I am also not okay with nuclear warfare. Can you remind me who is the only country to use nuclear weapons? The birth defects in Fallujah (victims of depleted uranium warheads) also repulse me. Again would you advocate using force against your own government because of these offenses? If not, you are a hypocrite. Sorry, I hate bad things as much as you do, but your selective justice is disconcerting.
Chris L September 03, 2013 at 09:04 PM
@proud=awesome @Robert, again i disagree with you. We have already drawn the line and it wasnt about a country. We didnt say that your not allowed to war or battle. What we did say is that at some point it turns from war to genocide and we wont allow that again. Chem weapons were that point. Also to use the reasoning that since we cant change the entire world, this one battle isnt one to fight is a fallacy. Yes we sometimes need to pick and chose our battles. This should be one. As far as our military goes, while my hearts go out to them, they are pawns in polotics. You sign up for the military knowing you may be asked to kill and asked to die for something you dont believe in. If you are not okay with that, then you shouldnt join the military. (to me the military is more about patriotism and trust that our govt will do the right thing). Our country was built on a few people making decisions for MANY. Most of the colonists in the US did not want the revolution. They saw it as terrorists. That did not defeat the idea of freedom and justice over life. I for one believe in that over anything. Yes our country has its own problems and as you know, i blog about those as well. But this is just another one of those debates that we need to have. In a perfect world, we could do this diplomatically. We should try to. We should not just jump in and bomb the place. Use our muscle to get the job done without having to attack. If that doesnt work, keep upping force.
Joey Joe September 03, 2013 at 09:41 PM
@Chris - with a simple one word answer to your question... YES... We've stuck our noses in far too many places where we had no business doing so. We buy our allies and always have since as long as I've been around...meanwhile we have Americans hanging onto the dirty end of the stick. What did sticking our noses into Korea buy us? How about VietNam, Somalia, Afghanistan - didn't get a damn thing for all the body bags that came home to Moms... I dunno, but Switzerland is lookin like a very good country to emulate. They are one of the richest countries in the world and they spend $3 billion/yr in foreign aid - ALL Humanitarian. I think we get ourselves into more trouble trying to be the policeman of the world. We had all better learn to speak Chinese because while we're so concerned about the middle east and being the worlds cop, China is eating our lunch. Trust me when we go down the tubes - WHICH WE MOST CERTAINLY WILL if we keep on goin as we are - the only thing we'll get from Israel is a Sympathy Card... and even that will be sent without a stamp.
Spooner September 03, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Keep this under your hat: but there's a $10Billion gas pipe line from Iran through Iraq to the Syrian coast in the works. And hey if anybody doesn't believe the US of A is an Imperialist power. . .remember when they were debating the Constitution at Independence Hall, the Confederation Congress were voting on the Northwest Ordinance at the same time, in the same building...The attempt to destabilize Syria began in 2002 by the neo-con John Bolton in the Bush administration. CW is just another excuse in the long continuation of that endeavor. And Syria is not Libya or Iraq when it comes to it's military arsenal. There capable of firing mobile radar guided anti ship cruise missiles.
Robert Yates September 04, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Who already drew the line @ Chris L? And who is asking us for help? Unless this country is presented with a clear and present danger to its safety, the president is not constitutionally permitted to draw lines or wage war. This is congresses duty. The constitution is unequivocal. Your charitable inclinations are nice and again I would encourage you to embark on them in a private capacity with your own money and the money that you can raise, but it is not permitted by our governing documents, plainly and simply. I think your remarks about joining the military are correct. I have great respect for the soldier that rightfully defends his country or his property, but I do not respect rogue governments that immorally direct troops at their pleasure to enrich their cronies. We live under a rogue government, that is, a government that is not constricted by the law. This is not a democracy; it is not a republic; it is a decaying oligarchy and it will go bankrupt due primarily to military adventures like the one you are supporting. How stupid are we to follow Rome right down the toilet? Obam, Biden, Bush and Cheney should have been required to read Livy and then produce a book report on it. Couple that with all the domestic welfare spending and our decline is inevitable. Regarding the American revolution, about a third supported it; another third rejected it and another third did not care. So it is not quite accurate to say that most were against it. And we did use unconventional tactics (what some like to call terrorism). That is probably the only reason we ultimately won. War is a horrific thing and we ought only embark upon in as a last resort. Syria does not qualify.
Winston Smith September 04, 2013 at 10:30 AM
As always, I'm with Yates . Yesterdays image of John McCain playing video poker during the hearings is all you really need to know. THESE PEOPLE DONT GIVE A CRAP ABOUT YOU OR YOUR KIDS! Get it? The old collaborator even joked about it on Twitter and was given thousands of requests for his resignation in response . These guys are only there to protect vital Corporate interests, not yours. As far as Runyon goes, he's not undecided, the big dumb jock didn't get his marching orders yet. That's all.
Winston Smith September 04, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Wait...didn't Janet Reno use chemical warfare on her own people? (Waco) oh sorry, they were Christians,So they would have been against gay marriage and abortion. Yeah, that doesn't count.
Spooner September 04, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Winston- not that anybody gives two hoots today, but Waco was all about money and politics. The key player back then was Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Bentsen was appointed to head the ATF as Treasury Secretary. Waco business interests and local politicians wanted the Davidians off the land, so they could bring in development.
Robert Yates September 05, 2013 at 11:19 AM
@Spooner: I did not know that, though it would not surprise me were it true. @Daniel Nee: can you do a follow up to this article to see if Mr. Runyan has made up his mind?
proud September 05, 2013 at 11:28 AM
@ Robert Yates, this is an interesting article on how different Senators and Representatives from the House are "leaning" on the Syria situation. The Hill's Syria Whip List: Tough work for Obama to win votes for strike thehill.com/homenews/administration/319933-the-hills-syria-whip-list 2 days ago - ... up votes on the left. The measure is expected to pass the Senate, but its prospects in the House are dimmer. ... C.) — Working closely with the White House on Syria. Kay Hagan (D-N. .... Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) — Appears to ...
Robert Yates September 05, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Thanks for the link @proud.
Spooner September 05, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Read my lips: this is all theater. . .in the end, before you can say "I don't believe it" the House will approve. Putin has boxed us in; thanks to the incompetence or stupidity of the Obama administration, into a corner and hornets nest. That boozoo has put the integrity of the country on the line. It's a shame he can't be removed.
proud September 06, 2013 at 11:36 AM
I missed your post until now @Robert. You're quite welcome.
Robert Yates September 13, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I stand corrected on my prediction regarding Runyan. Apparently he would vote no on military action. I guess I assumed he would be consistent with his past hawkishness. I guess political expediency (i.e. massive popular objection) and loyalty to the majority of his party supersedes consistency. At least we now know that that funny, but hypocritical spoof, recently released by the Koch brothers applies to both parties.

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