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September 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Slade Gorton on the Syria attack

Slade Gorton in 2011 (Jim Bates / The Seattle Times)

Slade Gorton in 2011
(Jim Bates / The Seattle Times),

In March 2011, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash, said President Obama’s military involvement in Libya should have been placed before Congress for a vote. I asked him about the proposed attack on Syria.

Gorton, who left the Senate in 2001, said President Obama was “wise” to put the question to Congress, though it was not clear under the law that he had to. Gorton’s objection to the resolution is that it does not solve the problem of Syrian President Bashar Assad and chemical weapons. “I might vote ‘yes’ if Obama said, ‘Assad has to go’ and he had a plan.” But “lobbing a few missiles,” Gorton said,  is not a plan.

“We really have no good alternatives,” he said.  “We’ve got to be extremely careful about getting ourselves into wars, and we should never get into them unless we’re willing to win them.”

Referring to the tradition of leaving foreign-policy disputes at the water’s edge and facing the world undivided, Gordon said, “I sympathize with [Republican House Speaker John] Boehner,” who has come out in support of the president. Gorton added, “But I wouldn’t vote with him.”

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