Last Updated on September 4, 2013.
Experts agree that the unilateral use of force in Syria would not stop Assad. In fact, U.S. military intervention would likely kill more innocent civilians and drag the U.S. into another expensive and prolonged conflict in the Middle East. The following is a list of bipartisan statements by leading experts against the use of U.S. military force in Syria.
“Forceful diplomacy – not military force – should guide international efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria. Tonight, the President indicated that he was encouraged by the Russian proposal. Still, the President unfortunately reserved the right to launch a military strike if the diplomatic effort does not succeed, and we urge Congress to oppose any such military authorization. New possibilities for diplomacy – real alternatives to war – are rising. Those possibilities must be pursued urgently, seriously, and immediately.” Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
“Since the proposal to send ‘a signal of American resolve’ to Iran by bombing Syria has spectacularly failed, it’s time for a fundamental shift in U.S. policy. If we can talk to Russia about securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, we can talk to Iran about securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stocks. Iran not only has a new President, but an entirely new crew of pragmatic, experienced, top diplomatic officials. It’s time to reset our relationships in the Middle East. We need to be able to relate to everyone, while being beholden to no-one.” Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy
“Violence is rarely solved by more violence. Anyone looking hard at Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Egypt today must fully recognize that reality,” Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
“I believe that to blow up a bunch of stuff over a couple days, to underscore or validate a point or principle, is not a strategy.” Fmr. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
“I never intended my analysis of a cruise missile strike option to be advocacy even though some people look at it as that. Punitive action is the dumbest of all actions. I don’t think we have the stomach to deploy enough punitive action that would serve as a deterrent,” Chris Harmer, a senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War
“You’re not going to get his attention with a token strike with a handful of cruise missiles on a bunch of launchers. I mean, that’s laughable,” Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula
“War brings on war. Violence brings on violence. Listen to the voice of their conscience and with courage take up the way of negotiations,” Pope Francis I commenting on Syria
“Destroying the Syrian air force or grounding it through intimidation is operationally feasible but would have only marginal benefits for protecting Syrian civilians,” RAND Corporation
“The missile strikes the White House is contemplating would advance Syria’s dissolution. American and allied cruise missiles would be degrading the capability of the regime’s military units to the benefit of the al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting Assad — the same militants whom U.S. drones are attacking regularly in places such as Yemen,” Steven A. Cook, the Council on Foreign Relations.
A “military option is out of the question,” Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby
“International law says that (any) military action must be taken after a decision by the Security Council,” U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi
“Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop acting and start talking,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
“Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and our when the balance shifts in their favor. Today they are not,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey
“Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey
“There’s a broad naiveté in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” Retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold
There are “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel. If President (Assad) were to absorb the strikes and use chemical weapons again, this would be a significant blow to the United States’ credibility and it would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives,” Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller
The United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war” Fmr. Head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. James Mattis
“We stand on a slippery slope. If Bashar al Asad repeats chemical attacks, or sponsors terrorist attacks against American assets around the world, Washington needs to be prepared to escalate. Bombing and escalation are not a policy,” Daniel Serwer, Johns Hopkins University
“The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution,” President Jimmy Carter
“To think that we can change things immediately just because we’re America, that’s not necessarily the case. These are internal struggles,” Fmr. Secretary of State Colin Powell
“One thing that’s very interesting, it seems to me, is that there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation,” Fmr. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
“What do we hope to achieve (with military invervention)? Where will it lead? What if Assad uses chemical weapons again? Are we going to escalate military action? We simply can’t predict which way military action will go and whether it would draw us, unwillingly, further into a conflict,”Lord West of Spithead, Fmr. British Security AdviserSeptember 4, 2013