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Bill Nelson: Failure to Act in Syria Will Cause Greater Suffering

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Based on the evidence I have seen, there is no doubt that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime used chemical weapons and slaughtered innocent civilians, including 400 children. The question now facing America – and all civilized nations  – is will we stand by and allow this dictator to use weapons of mass destruction without suffering the consequences?

The answer must be "no."  The use of chemical weapons is inhumane, inexplicable, inexcusable and against all conventions of human decency. Such an atrocity should shock the world and compel an appropriate international response. 

If the United States doesn't act decisively, surely there will only be greater suffering and instability in that already volatile part of the world. Our allies could be the next ones in the cross-hairs of a missile carrying chemical weapons.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Syria.]

Inaction on our part also would embolden our enemies and adversaries. At stake, then, is our credibility and, for that matter, the credibility of the international community to stand up to a tyrant.

President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and even a number of prominent Republican leaders, including my Senate colleagues John McCain and Lindsay Graham, have rightly declared that it's in our nation's best interest to hold accountable this dictator whose troops used chemical weapons on their own people. Likewise, I believe it is appropriate that our nation take surgical military action against the Assad regime. Americans should understand this won't involve putting American boots on the ground. 
The evidence is clear. I have seen it. Assad used weapons of mass destruction against innocent civilians. More than 1,400 men, women and children died.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

As President Kennedy acknowledged in his inaugural address in 1961, "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human … life." We dare not, he said, tempt our adversaries with weakness.

So, we dare not tempt someone like Assad with inaction. Our president has asked Congress to authorize a proportional response to the Assad regime's inhumanity. I trust my colleagues in Congress will join me in supporting the president's request.  And I hope the American people will do so as well.

Bill Nelson

About Bill Nelson Democratic Senator from Florida

Obama, Barack

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