WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann has long opposed any type of United States intervention in the Syrian civil war, and earlier this week announced she’ll vote against any potential military strike there.
Bachmann said Thursday she now has a new interest group backing her up: Middle Eastern heads of state.
Bachmann said she’s met with several Middle East leaders during a congressional delegation trip this week (Bachmann is still on the trip and said she couldn’t go into details for security reasons). Their message, she said, has been that there is a way to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and establish a new, cooperative government.
But a “United States kinetic strike would only make the situation worse in Syria,” she said, and open the door to radical groups like al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood taking over. If the United States gets involved, she said, the situation could crumble further and spill into other parts of the region.
“Some of these heads of states say they have identified a more stable, solid element that could go in,” she said in an interview. “It wouldn’t be through kinetic force. It would be through pressure, not just from the United States, but from other countries, essentially working a deal with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, so that there is a new regime that goes in, but one that brings stability to that country.”
Bachmann, along with Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, has been one of the most outspoken Minnesota opponents of intervening in Syria at all. President Obama has asked Congress to authorize a military strike there after a chemical weapons attack in August, but the question has divided lawmakers. From Minnesota, Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson have said they’ll vote no; Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum have indicated they’ll support the measure.
But Bachmann said Thursday that Americans are “war weary” and that getting involved in the Syrian civil war is “a very bad call” from the Obama administration.
“From a United States perspective, the very first question that has to be answered is, number one: What is the identifiable, vital American national security interest?” she said. “Well, there isn’t one. You can’t find one. Number two: We have to ask, what is our plan for victory? And in the case of defeat, what’s our plan for exit? None of that has been addressed.”
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.