WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue on Wednesday called for supplying arms and humanitarian aid to Syrian opposition forces in response to last week’s apparent chemical attacks on civilians blamed on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
But Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Service Committee, remains unconvinced that military action by the United States and other western forces would do much while exacting long-term costs and putting “our troops in harm’s way.”
Smith issued his statement after visiting Syrian refugees at the Jordanian border. President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to ready for possible missile strikes by U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean.
“To be clear, I am not calling for an open-ended commitment to remove the Assad regime, but that does not mean we cannot act in a way that is consistent with our interests and values,” Smith said. “Simply lashing out with military force under the banner of “doing something” will not secure our interests in Syria.”
Smith has long been reluctant to get the United States involved in Syria, even on humanitarian grounds.
“Do we say if there is suffering anywhere we as the United States of America have a responsibility to try and fix it? ‘No,’ is the answer to that question, because it’s a challenge we can’t possibly meet,” Smith said in a March 2012 interview with Foreign Policy magazine.