Kind, state legislators undecided on Syria

Concern that action could draw U.S. into prolonged conflict

Most members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation said they have not made up their minds on President Barack Obama’s request for military intervention in Syria.

The U.S. and France have accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons against his own people, and Obama has asked Congress to authorize a military strike. The president has said only limited military action is planned.

But Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., said Wednesday that after attending intelligence briefings by the White House, he remains concerned about the possibility of the U.S. being drawn into a long conflict. Kind said he asked the Obama administration for a national intelligence assessment of what the day after a strike might look like.

“There are many trip wires throughout the region and we could very easily be drawn into a prolonged engagement, not of our choosing or liking, just based on the response in the region,” Kind said.

The Democrat said he has been speaking with people in his western Wisconsin district and “there’s not much enthusiasm about another prolonged military engagement in the Middle East following two long wars this past decade in the same region.”

But not taking military action could send “the wrong message,” he said.

“There’s a reason so many countries throughout the world have signed the chemical weapons treaty, because they’ve determined that is a red line, that that cannot be tolerated in the international community,” Kind said.

Staff members for Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said they also remain undecided.

Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., voted against a resolution to authorize using military force in Syria, according to a release.

“There were so many unanswered questions that I could not even consider voting ‘yes.’ It is unfortunate that a matter of such gravity was so inappropriately rushed,” Johnson said in the release.

Johnson said until he casts a final vote, he would continue to keep an open mind as questions are answered.

Republican Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis., is leaning against taking military action but is keeping an open mind, spokesman Kyle Roskam said in an email.

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., who represents the Milwaukee area, said she has not yet made up her mind on possible military action in Syria but she’s working hard to prepare for a vote.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., who represents northern Wisconsin, said he won’t support a resolution for military intervention in Syria. Duffy said he didn’t think the president had outlined a coherent plan to justify military action.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who represents suburbs west of Milwaukee, says he will vote against a military strike against Syria because it won’t help the Syrian people.

Sensenbrenner said in a statement Wednesday that he would vote no. The Republican says Obama’s plan for a strike “will not help the Syrian people or promote the freedom or security of the United States.”