September 11, 2013

Kaine Discusses Syria On Senate Floor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, discussed the situation in Syria today on the Senate floor, outlining why he believes Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons to kill Syrian civilians must have consequences, as well as praising current efforts to pursue a diplomatic path with Russia and Syria – an opportunity he argues would not have been possible without American pressure and resolve.

“The Americans who fought in World War II, in Europe, in North Africa and the Pacific, who fought in Korea, who fought in Iraq…have never had to worry about facing chemical weapons, no matter how bad the opponent was,” Kaine said, describing the impact of the 1925 ban on chemical weapons. “This is a very important principle and it’s a positive thing for humanity that we reached this accord and that we’ve honored it.”

Kaine went on to express how “gratifying” it was to learn that Russia had come to the table with a proposal that the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, one of the largest in the word, would be placed under international control, noting that the authorization passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee last week included a provision that requires the President to certify all diplomatic options have been exhausted before taking military action.

“It is very important that we be creative, it’s very important that we have direct talks with the perpetrators and enablers of these crimes, but also intermediaries and independent nations to look for diplomatic alternatives,” Kaine continued. “But the diplomatic offer that is on the table wasn’t on the table until America demonstrated that it was prepared to stand up for the proposition that chemical weapons cannot be used. I have no doubt that had we not taken the action in Congress last week in the Foreign Relations Committee…Russia would not suddenly have taken their position. So American resolve is important.”

Calling on his colleagues to “continue to be resolved,” Kaine stressed that “as long as we stand strong with this resolve, we will maximize the chance we will be able to obtain the result we want.”

Kaine also reiterated his support for the President’s decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria.

“Like many Virginians, I have family in the military who are going to be directly affected by what we do or what we don’t do [in Syria], and I think about those family members and all Virginians and all Americans who have loved ones in service as I contemplate this difficult issue,” Kaine said. “I want to thank the President…for taking a historic step, as he said he would as a candidate, of bringing a question like this to Congress. We may be unable to act in certain cases because we’re divided, but if we act and we act united, we are much stronger, both militarily and in the moral example that we pose to the world. And it’s the right thing to do for the troops who bear the burden of battle.”

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