Rep. Cook's Statement on Military Strikes Against Assad
WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) issued the following statement on the U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime in Syria:
"Last night the President showed that America is willing to back up its words with action. For years, the United States has warned Syria and the Assad regime against the use of chemical weapons, and for years Assad has continued using them with impunity. This culminated earlier this week in his use of sarin gas, one of the world’s deadliest nerve agents, against defenseless women and children.
The previous administration reached a deal with Assad and Russia back in 2013 to remove Assad’s arsenal of chemical weapons. Since the deal was struck, however, Assad has repeatedly used chemical weapons. It’s long past time to acknowledge that the deal was a failure, and that Assad and his Russian backers lied to us. Preventing the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly against civilians, has always been a core American interest. Last night’s strikes targeting the air base from where Assad's chemical attack was launched are in line with that objective.
There are no good solutions in Syria. Terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda make up much of the fighting power of the opposition to the Assad regime. Their victory in the civil war would lead to genocide for anyone who refuses to embrace their twisted ideology, and they would provide a safe haven for terrorists to threaten the United States.
At the same time, the victory of Assad poses just as great a threat to America. Assad, his Ba’ath Party, and his army have long since ceased being a government in any meaningful sense. Assad and his cronies who already supported terror against Israel, Lebanon, and the United States have become terrorists themselves. They regularly ignore all norms of international conflict by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians across Syria and displaying a barbarism rarely seen in modern times. In fact, his regime’s chief ally on the ground is Hezbollah, one of the world’s deadliest terror organizations that also has the blood of hundreds of Americans on its hands.
Assad, the Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and all of the other terrorists in Syria must be confronted and defeated. This does not mean that the United States should launch another open-ended invasion and occupation of Syria as it did in Iraq, but it does mean we must be willing to strike at Syrian terrorists when they threaten vital American interests whether they are part of the Islamic State or part of the Assad regime. We should continue to work with our Arab allies like Jordan and Iraq, moderate Sunni rebels, and the Kurds to establish safe zones for Syrian civilians and eventually roll back and defeat the terrorists that are operating in Syria.
The President made the right call last night, but it’s only the first step toward eliminating the grave threat of terrorism in Syria.”