Local congressmen question possible Syria strike - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Local congressmen question possible Syria strike

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

President Barack Obama might get the Senate's support for a surgical military strike on Syria. But congressmen from the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are any indication, he's facing an uphill battle in the House of Representatives.

"I'm leaning no," Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) said Monday. "But I want to find out how wide of a strike this would be, and what would be the ramifications of it? We know Russia and China will veto this if we go through the U.N. But the question is, what are you going to do if we strike?"

Other congressmen said its questions like these that give them pause.

Georgia Southern Political Science Professor Barry Balleck says there aren't many easy answers. Say surgical strikes tip the Syrian conflict in favor of the rebels, say Bashar Al Assad falls...

"Then the question becomes, 'Who takes his place?'" Balleck said. "There doesn't seem to be any clear leadership in these rebel groups that are out there. And some of them even have ties to Al Qaeda. And it's a very tenuous situation that we have to be very careful of in terms of, what kind of things are we going to stir up?"

Those are some of the same reasons Congressman Mark Sanford (R-Beaufort) wants to hold back.

"At this point, I'm still against military involvement in Syria," he said in a telephone interview Monday night. "I think that there are a whole host of other diplomatic things that could be done with some of the folks who have been supplying this regime with arms and materials, and I think those things ought to be done first."

Sanford says he wants to put pressure on the two members of the United Nations Security Council that have stood by Syria: Russia and China. But he, like Kingston, thinks Obama made the right choice when he turned to Congress for support.

Despite the risk, Balleck, like the President, thinks inaction in the face of a chemical weapons attack sets a dangerous precedent.

"If countries have these stockpiles and they see that nothing is being done, it's a distinct possibility that other countries might be tempted to use them," he said. "We know that Saddam Hussein used these against the Kurds in the 1980s. And you know, the international community stood by and didn't do anything. And we had to put up with Saddam Hussein for the next 15 years."

Here's a breakdown of where local lawmakers stand. Georgia senators Saxby Chambliss (R) and Johnny Isakson (R) support military intervention. So does South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R). WTOC hasn't heard back yet from Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina).

A spokesman for Georgia Rep. John Barrow (D-Augusta) said Monday that Barrow won't support the president's resolution calling for a strike as it is currently written. Kingston is leaning toward voting against it. So is Sanford. WTOC hasn't heard back yet from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-Columbia). 

Copyright 2013 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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