U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson criticized the case for war being made by his fellow Democrats in the Obama Administration by saying it’s not telling the truth that Syria’s use of chemical weapons is "undeniable."
“To say that it’s 'undeniable' is flatly false,” Grayson said Thursday on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper. “The administration is only giving one side of the story."
A member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Orlando Democrat's comments were in direct response to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent claim that it’s “undeniable” Syrian President Bashar al Assad used chemical weapons against rebels in his country.
Grayson said the evidence is lacking and pointed out that the British government said the facts in Syria aren't so clear. United Nations inspectors are on the ground in Syria and have yet to make a determination. British members of Parliament voted Thursday to hold off on conducting military strikes in concert with the United States.
Grayson said it’s not certain if chemical weapons were even used. And even if the United Nation’s determined the poisons were employed, Grayson said, he wouldn’t consider voting to authorize military action in Syria unless the U.N. first approved a military strike.
That’s an unlikely decision by the United Nations because Syria’s allies, Russia and China, are expected to oppose military strikes on the Middle East country.
Grayson’s comments stand out for their clarity and because it shows that President Obama’s case for war will be tough to make in Congress. A coalition of Republican and Democratic members of congress are demanding a say in whether the U.S. would strike Syria.
Obama’s administration has suggested it might act unilaterally – a direct contradiction of his own position in 2007.
“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama told the Boston Globe back then.
Since then, Obama reversed himself by taking action in Libya in 2011.
Not only are Democrats split over attacking Syria, Republicans are as well.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are anti-interventionist. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has called for more military action. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Foreign Relations committee member who was conspicuously silent until Wednesday, said Obama needs to make his case and come before Congress.
Rubio faulted Obama for not acting more decisively more quickly.
“We are now left with no good options,” Rubio said in a statement.
“Failing to act would further embolden Assad and his Iranian sponsors, leaving the impression that America is feckless and impotent,” Rubio said. “And a limited attack would do nothing to change the dynamics of the conflict, but could trigger a broader and even more dangerous conflict in the region.”
Rubio’s fellow Florida Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, has clearly called for a strike on Syria.
But Grayson made clear that he’s largely opposed and that he doesn’t want the United States to go it alone, in part because of the expense.
“I don’t know where we get this odd notion that every time we see something bad in the world we should bomb it,” Grayson said.
“In any case, even if we had undeniable evidence, the fact is it’s simply not our responsibility,” he said. “Sometimes, everyone needs to learn the principle: Mind your own business.”