November 12, 2015

ICYMI: Udall in USA Today: Keep U.S. troops out of Syria

In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote an op-ed in USA Today saying President Obama's decision to deploy troops to Syria "will lead to further chaos and risk more American lives and taxpayer funds in yet another Middle Eastern war."

Udall opposed the failed "train-and-equip" program, which provided rebels with weapons that later fell into the hands of militants affiliated with jihadist groups. He also has backed measures calling for a limited one-year Authorization for the Use of Military Force and to prevent the United States from sending American ground troops to Syria.

In his op-ed, Udall said that U.S. troops have done their jobs admirably. But sending American ground forces puts service members in danger and risks deepening U.S. involvement in a war that Congress has not authorized and that could violate international law.

"It is a mistake to believe that continued involvement on the ground would do anything other than put our troops directly in danger. We should not increase our military footprint in Syria without a realistic mission that has a chance of success," Udall wrote.

"In the end, the path forward involves both enabling and supporting our regional allies to counter ISIL and al-Qaeda and finding a political solution to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. American combat troops are not the answer."

Following President Obama's announcement that special operations forces will be deployed to Syria, Udall joined Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to prohibit the administration from using any funds on military and covert activities that would escalate U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Read the full op-ed HERE and below:

Keep U.S. troops out of Syria: Opposing view
Boots on the ground put the United States on shaky legal ground.
By Tom Udall
5:17 p.m. EST November 10, 2015

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria is a serious threat in the Middle East. We must support our allies in the region and continue to degrade the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Over the last decade, our troops in the region have performed admirably. But escalating American involvement in a complex ethnic and religious civil war by deploying ground troops is a mistake that will lead to further chaos and risk more American lives and taxpayer funds in yet another Middle Eastern war.

Efforts to support so-called moderate forces in Syria have failed so far. Many of the weapons we provided to rebels under the failed train-and-equip program are now in the hands of militants affiliated with al-Qaeda or other jihadist groups.

It is a mistake to believe that continued involvement on the ground would do anything other than put our troops directly in danger. We should not increase our military footprint in Syria without a realistic mission that has a chance of success. In most of Syria, the strongest groups are the despotic regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, and ISIL, the most brutal terrorist group we've seen yet. The likelihood that a U.S.-friendly regime will emerge and stabilize Syria is low - even if we deployed significantly more troops.

Further, U.S. boots on the ground put the United States on shaky legal ground under both the War Powers Act and international law. Congress has not provided an authorization for the use of military force in Syria, and we have not been invited by Syria, as we have in Iraq, to provide support for groups opposed to ISIL.

That is why I introduced legislation with Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut to prevent further escalation of American military involvement in Syria. It allows for humanitarian aid and intelligence gathering against America's foes.

In the end, the path forward involves both enabling and supporting our regional allies to counter ISIL and al-Qaeda and finding a political solution to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. American combat troops are not the answer.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.