Washington, DC — Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) issued the following statement today after voting against an amendment to authorize U.S. funding to arm and train so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels.
“I continue to support an aggressive counterterrorist strategy that includes airstrikes and other counterterrorism measures that have proved successful against ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorists in places like Afghanistan, Yemen and North Africa. It is clear that ISIS, if left unchecked, could threaten key American allies and ultimately pose a direct threat to the United States. I am not, however, comfortable with the creation of a U.S. proxy army over which we would have limited control, and whose mission is split and unclear.
“I am deeply concerned that funding a proxy group of Syrian rebels who are acting in America’s name will make the United States a principal player in what is essentially a Sunni-Shia civil war. This proxy force would essentially be carrying out two, highly complex operations at once: fighting both ISIS terrorists and the Assad regime’s well-trained regulars. It would be bad enough to be on one side of a Middle Eastern civil war; now we appear to be on both sides.
“It is unclear how the United States will vet the Syrian rebels and what kinds of weapons we will give them. There are too many variables that risk unintended consequences such as human rights violations and having U.S. weapons fall into the hands of terrorists. Unfortunately, our experience with military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that outcomes are always unpredictable, and rarely good.
“Finally, while this vote was explicitly not a Congressional authorization for the use of force, Congress has now given up its leverage to demand that the President move forward only with Congressional authorization, as the Constitution demands. That is no way to celebrate Constitution Day.”