As the White House continues to seek support for military action against Syria, many lawmakers remain undecided. New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel is not one of them.
Rangel has said from the early stages of this debate that he would be a “no” vote on the president’s call for military action. Rangel told MSNBC’s Alex Witt on Saturday that there is a lack of evidence that what’s happening in Syria has an impact on the U.S.’s national security and that there is “no such thing as a limited war.” He reiterated those sentiments Thursday with Martin Bashir.
“This is war. There’s no such thing as a limited war. You cannot attack a country and then tell him the rules in which he or she should respond. We know that,” Rangel told Bashir. While Rangel agreed that the use of chemical weapons was “atrocious,” he remained skeptical that these behaviors are a direct threat to U.S. national security. “I think that doesn’t make sense,” he said.
When Bashir pointed out “98% of the nations on this Earth actually oppose the use of chemical weapons,” Rangel asked why, then, they’re all “asking our kids to put their lives in jeopardy?” President Obama has not called for boots on the ground–and the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee prohibits this option without further debate–but Rangel is not the first to express concern that military strikes could escalate into a more deeply embroiled scenario of war. Chris Matthews, for example, has questioned what retaliatory actions could be taken by any number of Assad allies in response to U.S. attacks.
In Rangel’s eyes, international atrocities should be condemned and reacted to internationally. He cited the need for institutions like the UN and NATO, as well as now being the time for America to tell “the countries we give billions of dollars to ‘put some skin in the game.’” “I refuse to believe we’re the only ones that have an armed forces,” Rangel said.
Rep. Rangel has pushed to reinstate the draft before going into Syria, citing the fact that by doing so the American public would be compelled “to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation.” Rangel said that “currently less than 1% of America’s population is unfairly shouldering the burden of war.”
Bashir pointed out that during the Clinton years Rangel did vote to support air strikes in Kosovo to prevent genocide, to which Rangel responded: “I have said enough is enough is enough. The last time any president has followed the Constitution and asked the Congress to support wartime commitment was Franklin Roosevelt. And any member of Congress that allows this to happen–see no evil, hear no evil–they, like me, ought to say at some point, we owe it to Americans to say enough is enough.”
Watch the rest of the interview: