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Kaine calls for Obama to propose concise Syria strategy

From staff reports • Oct 31, 2015 at 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine on Friday said the Obama administration needs to propose a 'unified strategy' to address ISIL terrorists and Syria, and Congress needs to step up to its war decision role.

Kaine said when President Obama, 15 months ago, announced two narrow operations in Iraq -- targeted air strikes to protect American personnel in Erbil and a humanitarian effort to save Iraqi civilians trapped by surging ISIL terrorists on Mount Sinjar -- the president said American combat troops would not be returning to fight in Iraq.

"However, since then, we have seen the United States increase troop deploymnet levels to more than 3,500 service members and undertake approximately 7,000 air strikes in Iraq and Syria at a cost of over $4.75 billion, or $11 million a day," Kaine said in a prepared statement.

"We have seen the deaths of U.S. citizens -- first the execution of American hostages after the bombing began in August 2014, then the death of American servicemen who were deployed in the area, and then sadly, the first combat death last week of Master Sergeant Wheeler."

Meanwhile, Kaine said the world has witnessed ISIL -- also referred to as ISIS -- expand its influence in other countries, an acceleration of "the worst refugee crisis since World War II" in Syria, "inflamed violence beteween Turkey" and Kurdish populations, and "now we have seen the Russian military enter the theater in Syria in an accelerated way."

Kaine said while he agrees ISIL "must be destroyed and defeated," Congress has "sat on its hands and failed to perform one of its most fundamental constitutional duties, to debate and vote on an authorization for the president's use of military force."

While Congress does its duty, Kaine said "it is also time for the (Obama) administration to propose a unified strategy that addresses the intertwined challenges posed by ISIL and (Syria) President Assad. I strongly support the efforts underway today in Vienna to bring a peaceful end to the civil war in Syria and note the incongruity to pursuing political discussions while at the same time ramping up our U.S. military presence in Syria to address half the problem -- ISIL, but not Assad."

Kaine said "we are now one year, two months and 23 days into an unauthorized and executive war. It is time for Congress to do its most solemn job -- to debate and declare war. It is also time for the (Obama) administration to detail to the American people a comprehensive strategy to bring both the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, which are mestastizing around the globe, to a peaceful end."

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