The Corner

Did Ted Cruz Just Call for Military Action in Syria?

In a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, Senator Ted Cruz appeared to call for United States to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, “and then get out”:

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) today spoke on the Senate floor to voice his concern about U.S. plans to supply arms to Syrian rebel groups. The senator criticized the Obama Administration’s failure to engage at the beginning of the uprising when peaceful protestors could have used the vocal, energetic support of the United States. The U.S. has since lost its opportunity to have meaningful influence over the situation in a manner that would serve our nation’s best interests.

Although the situation in Syria is very serious – 93,000 are dead, millions have been displaced and Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people –the most effective, organized rebels are loyal to al Qaida. The U.S. should not provide arms to groups that are loyal to our enemies. Our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.

“The President would be better off focusing clearly on the one thing that is in our national security interests: securing Syria’s large stockpile of chemical weapons,” Sen. Cruz said. “We know Assad has used these weapons, and there is good reason to suspect the al Qaida-affiliated rebels would use them as well if they could get their hands on them. This poses an intolerable threat not only to our friends in the region, but also to the United States. We need to be developing a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out. The United States should be firmly in the lead to make sure the job is done right.”

Cruz’s wording is vague. But I’m struggling to read this as a suggestion that the United States arrange a consensual entry into Syria. For a man who is careful with his words, these are highly suggestive:

We need to be developing a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out. The United States should be firmly in the lead to make sure the job is done right.

The full press release is here.

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