Neither of Newton County’s U.S. representatives believes the country should use military force in Syria, despite the president’s call for a limited military strike in retaliation for the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons on its own people.
Congressmen Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, and Paul Broun, R-Athens, both released statements doubting any benefit from a U.S. military intervention in Syria, a country wracked by civil war and involved in wider regional conflicts.
"I do not believe America should be militarily involved in Syria," Broun said in an email statement to The News. "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."
Johnson took a softer stance.
"I don’t believe the president needs congressional approval to conduct limited strikes in Syria; however I respect his decision to seek authorization. At this time, I am deeply skeptical that use of force is in our national interest," Johnson said in a statement on his website.
President Barack Obama and administration officials are trying to garner congressional approval for a punitive military strike against Syria, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., referring to federal lawmakers, said, "My impression is that a lot of people are up for grabs."
Following months of rejecting direct intervention in Syria, Obama and his aides now want to strike at the regime of Bashar Assad in response to a reported chemical attack that the Obama administration says was carried out by Assad’s military.
The administration says 1,429 died in the episode, include 400 children. However, casualty estimates by other groups from the attack on Aug. 21 in a Damascus suburb are far lower, and Assad’s government blames the episode on rebels who have been seeking to overthrow his government in a civil war that began over two years ago.
A United Nations inspection team is awaiting lab results on tissue and soil samples it collected while in the country before completing a closely watched report. International support has been slim to date, with France as the main backer, while many other leaders are calling for more information.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said any punitive action against Syria would be illegal without the support of the U.N. Security Council or a sound case for self-defense, and he warned a military strike could unleash more turmoil and bloodshed in a crisis that has already killed more than 100,000 people.
So far, Georgia’s lawmakers have had mixed reactions. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, in a recent interview on CBS’ "Face the Nation’’ said his "constituents are war weary," though he has previously been in favor of intervening in Syria, and the official statement on his website supports military action.
Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson also supports action, and both he and Chambliss said they wished the president had called Congress back for an immediate vote instead of waiting until Sept. 9.
Others are looking for more information, including U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta.
"More answers are needed before U.S. resources, both personnel and funding, are spent on another Middle Eastern conflict. Americans want clarity in understanding the reasons that action would need to be taken," Scott said in a statement on his website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.