Congressman Tom Cotton

Representing the 4th District of Arkansas
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Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Syria

Sep 6, 2013
Cotton Blog
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the situation in Syria. Below you will find the video and transcript of my Q &A during the hearing. 
Thank you Mr. Chairmen, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Hagel, General Dempsey, thank you for your time and your service, most importantly in uniform; Mr. Kerry and Mr. Hagel as young men and General Dempsey as a young man and now a more seasoned man, as well. 
I have grown weary for several months. Not weary of war, because I know as each of you know, that war is sometimes the price that a free society must pay to defend our freedom and protect our interests abroad. I have grown weary of the President’s war weariness. I have called for months for action in Syria. I feel that action should have been taken years ago. I am deeply worried that our core national security interests are at stake in Syria. Mr. Kerry, you said that the President does not bluff. I fear that both our enemies and our allies do not believe that statement. For some time now, we have let Iran violate numerous United Nations resolutions. In Syria, we have not acted previously on uses of chemical weapons and I do believe the world is watching. The day the United States does not act is not just a day that Bashar al-Assad knows it’s open season for chemical weapons, but also the day Kim Jong-un knows that and most ominously, the day that Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei spins his centrifuges into overdrive, which starts the clock ticking to the less than two year moment when the warheads on intercontinental missiles could hit our constituents here in the United States.
 I agree with what my colleague Adam Kinzinger said, that we have a vital interest in maintaining the international taboo against chemical weapons. All of you like me, have been in training, I suspect, where you’ve been exposed to gas and you know that no one benefits from that taboo more than do American troops. I’m also deeply worried that our inaction is destabilizing the Middle East, in particular our allies in Israel and Jordan as well as Turkey. And emboldening Iran, one of our most implacable enemies, as they send thousands of troops to fight in Syria, along with Hezbollah, its terrorist proxy from Lebanon. So that is why, miracle of miracles, I am in support of the President’s call for action in Syria. 
I am urging my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to support this action as well. However, the President’s stated policy was not just a redline against chemical weapons, which as Mr. Sherman said, occurred without any objections from members of Congress and occurred before he was re-elected by the American people, it was also a stated policy of regime change. So I would like to ask you, what is the President planning that could lead not just to punishment for this use of chemical weapons, but also, an ultimate victory in Syria? Which is a change in the nature of the regime, so they will not use chemical weapons again, and so that a pro-western moderate native Syrian government can takes its place?