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August 29th, 2013
07:10 PM ET

Rep. Grayson on U.S. striking Syria: We are not the world's policeman

More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, mostly Republicans and some Democrats, sent President Barack Obama a letter demanding he consult with Congress before ordering any action.

Democratic congressman Alan Grayson, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, outright opposes any intervention.

"We are not the world's policemen. That is not our responsibility," said Grayson.

"The secretary certainly overstated the evidence that this was a deliberate decision made by the high command in Syria," said Grayson.

Grayson was referring to Secretary of State John Kerry's comments Tuesday, when he said that evidence "strongly indicates" chemical weapons were used in last week's attack on a Damascus suburb that reportedly killed and wounded more than 3,000 people. Kerry added, "we know the Syrian regime maintains custody" of such weapons and has the rockets to use them.

United Nations inspectors are expected to reveal their findings on that attack by Saturday. But even if they come back and said such an attack occurred, and they think it is tied to the Assad administration, such findings would not satisfy the Florida congressman.

"If the United Nations decides to authorize members including the United States to do something about that, then that is a bridge we can cross at that point. But just because the United Nations inspectors would come and say chemical weapons were used, without even identifying whether it was a high command decision on that subject or even who did it, no, that doesn't satisfy me at all," said Grayson.

Grayson said the Obama administration has not explained why a U.S. strike in Syria affects vital American interest.

"I think the only people who really want it to happen are the military industrial complex. I just don't understand how this involves us, Americans. The British had estimated the strike will cost Americans billions of dollars ... And at a time when the budgets are so tight, and we're cutting veterans' benefits, and we're cutting education, and we're cutting health care, why are we spending billions of dollars?" said Grayson.

"I don't know where we got this odd notion that every time we see something bad happen in the world, we should bomb it," said Grayson.

But Obama told PBS Wednesday that the situation in Syria does affect the U.S., saying, "You are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency, but you're also creating a situation where U.S. national interests are affected. And that needs to stop."

"I don't see how this tragedy, it's a tragedy, affects U.S. national interests," Grayson said in response, adding that "the highest norm in international law is that you don't attack another country unilaterally without the authorization of the United Nations."

For more of our interview with Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, watch the video above.

Filed under: World Lead
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