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Sen. Begich sets out parameters for supporting military action in Syria

Posted: September 8, 2013 - 12:05am
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska arrives to join other lawmakers and national security officials, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, for a closed-door briefing on the situation in Syria. President Barack Obama has requested congressional authorization of military intervention in Syria in response to last month's alleged sarin gas attack in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)  J. Scott Applewhite
J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska arrives to join other lawmakers and national security officials, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, for a closed-door briefing on the situation in Syria. President Barack Obama has requested congressional authorization of military intervention in Syria in response to last month's alleged sarin gas attack in the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

ANCHORAGE — U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says he doesn’t support President Barack Obama’s resolution authorizing a military strike in Syria because it gives him broad powers, and he has reservations about a draft resolution from a congressional committee.

Obama is trying to make a case with members of Congress for strikes aimed at dismantling Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities. The U.S. has said it has proof the Assad regime is behind attacks that Washington claims killed more than 1,400 people.

Begich, D-Alaska, said Thursday during a televised town hall meeting that there are clear parameters that must be met for him to support any action.

“First, this has to be an international effort, which includes Russia and China,” he said. “They’re not void from this participation. They need to be a part of dealing with this international law violation.”

He also said there can be no boots on the ground, and that the military effort cannot be paid for by stripping existing programs. The last requirement is a clear exit strategy.

“What happens if Assad does more chemical weapons, are we back in? Are we then putting in ground troops? That hasn’t been clarified,” he said.

Begich said some will say these standards are too high, and that means he’s a probable “no” vote.

“Well, these are the standards when you’re putting American lives on the line that we should have,” he said. “That’s where I’m at on this, and they still have a lot to prove to me.”

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she wasn’t ready to support military action. A spokesman said U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, also is opposed to any sort of U.S. military intervention at this time.

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