Manchin still opposed to military strike on Syria
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., reiterated his opposition to plans proposed by the White House to launch missiles into Syria to attack the Bashar Assad administration, which the Obama administration alleged has used the deadly chemical weapon sarin to kill at least 1,429 citizens.
Since November 2010, when he began serving in the U.S. Senate after a special election to fill the seat held by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Manchin has often raised questions about the nation's foreign policies.
"The decision to use U.S. military force is one of the most serious decisions I have ever made," Manchin said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.
"Over the past few weeks I have heard the concerns from thousands of West Virginians on the situation in Syria."
During the past week, Manchin said, he attended hearings before the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees to hear testimony from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"I have attended classified briefings by the administration, and have met with national security and foreign policy experts from the leading think tanks and universities around the country. I have spoken with current and former military and administration officials. I sought out as much information as possible, so I could be sure that I had a complete understanding of the situation in Syria, and our strategic plan," Manchin said.
Manchin repeatedly encouraged West Virginians to share their opinions with him, as he did during his Monday afternoon speech at the annual United Mine Workers of America Labor Day celebration in Racine.
"Given the case that has been presented to me, I believe that a military strike against Syria at this time is the wrong course of action. In good conscience, I cannot support the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's resolution and will be working with my colleagues and the administration to develop other options."
On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution to authorize Obama to use military force in Syria, by a vote of 10 to 7.
"I believe that we must exhaust all diplomatic options and have a comprehensive plan for international involvement before we act," Manchin said.
Manchin has repeatedly questioned the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable foreign ventures. He's suggested that the money would be better used to strengthen our nation's own infrastructure -- including deteriorating roads and bridges.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.