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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Local congressmen say no, senators say yes on Syria intervention

The president has a hard task ahead of him when he convenes Congress next week to make the case for an attack on war-torn Syria.

Gwinnett’s three congressmen — despite sitting on both sides of the aisle — agree that they do not support an attack.

“At this time, I am deeply skeptical that use of force is in our national interest,” said Congressman Hank Johnson, a Democrat who said he did not believe that the president needed congressional approval to move forward with his plans for the country, which is accused of using chemical weapons.

But Republican Congressman Rob Woodall said the commander-in-chief has the authority to call on the Armed Forces in the event of attacks against the United States and its interests.

“In Syria, the president created a ‘red line’ and threatened action if it was crossed, and in doing so he backed America and himself into a corner,” Woodall said. “Now that we are in that corner, but with no immediate new threat to the American homeland, the president must not act alone. He should come to Congress immediately, not behind closed doors but in a special session for all Americans to see, and he must make his case for the involvement of American forces in Syria’s civil war.”

Woodall joined colleagues in a letter asking that he ask Congress to reconvene immediately.

“With the facts that I know now, I do not support an American attack on Syria, but if an attack is what the president wants, I welcome him to come to Capitol Hill and make his case to Congress and all of America,” said Woodall, whose district includes the majority of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.

Paul Broun, the congressman whose district includes eastern Gwinnett, said he does not believe America should be involved militarily in the situation in Syria.

“Without there being any direct threat to American national security, I do not find military intervention in Syria to be within our national interest, particularly in our current economic state,” the Republican said.

Georgia’s senators, however, think that the president should intervene.

“I believe the evidence is clear that the president’s red-line was crossed long ago, and the United States must respond,” U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss said. “However, while I appreciate the president seeking congressional approval, he should have already presented Congress with a strategy and objectives for military action, including what impact this will have on our allies and enemies alike in the region.

“Leadership is about reacting to a crisis, and quickly making the hard and tough decisions,” he added. “The president should have demanded Congress return immediately and debate this most serious issue.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said he agreed Congress should have been reconvened sooner than the currently scheduled Sept. 9 session.

“I support the use of military action in Syria,” Isakson said. “If we fail to take strong action again Syria for this horrendous attack, then we are sending a signal to Syria as well as to Iran and North Korea that they are accountable to no one.”

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.