Congressman Peter Welch says it would be a mistake for the United States to launch air strikes in Syria to weaken the Islamic State known as ISIS or ISIL.
The Obama Administration describes ISIS as a well-funded and well organized terrorist group that poses a threat to the security of the United States.
For the past few weeks, the Administration has conducted air strikes against ISIS in northern Iraq but these attacks stopped when ISIS forces move across the border into Syria.
Some members of the Administration say adhering to this geographical boundary line allows ISIS to regroup
They want President Obama to launch air strikes against any ISIS military strongholds there. Welch opposes the idea.
“I’m extremely skeptical of the wisdom of doing that. In my view there’s an enormous amount of risk in dragging us into a wicked civil war in Syria,” he says. “No one can exaggerate how bad [ISIS] is but if they have a competitor for being the baddest people on the planet then Assad is it.”
Welch says the United States can provide pro-government forces in Iraq with various forms of military assistance, but he says, in the end, this is a conflict that the people of Iraq have to resolve on their own.
“That skepticism is based not just on war weariness, it’s a realistic assessment that this fight really does belong to them,” said Welch. “And the Sunni – Shia divide that’s been going on for centuries is not something that our soldiers or our taxpayers can resolve by trying to micro-manage things from afar.”
Welch feels strongly that the President should seek Congressional approval before authorizing any air strikes in northern Syria.
“What the resources are that would be required, how much will you be asking of taxpayers would it eventually mean that we’d have to have boots on the ground ,” says Welch. “My view is there’s got to be an up or down vote by members of Congress because we have some independent responsibility to the people we represent to say where we stand on this.”
Welch says that while he believes that activities by ISIS could undermine the stability of the Middle East, he does not think the group is interested in launching terrorist attacks within the United States.