Op-Ed: Without Answers, Our Nation Must Refrain from the Use of Military Force in Syria


The use of chemical weapons, as we saw in Syria last month, is a heinous crime against humanity. Those responsible for perpetrating such crimes must be brought to justice.

The United States is the leader in defending freedom and liberty and advocating for the rights and dignity of people around the world. Indeed, as President Obama in his address on September 10 reminded us, “The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.”

However, American military force is not the only way to lead. Absent clear strategic and military objectives, and with no viable opposition on the ground, our nation must refrain from the use of military force in Syria.

Important questions must be answered before committing our men and women in uniform to military action, whether sailors on our destroyers and carriers in the Mediterranean Sea or boots on the ground.

What are our strategic and military objectives in Syria? What impact will a limited strike have? If the strike is substantial, does it result in a failed state and broader regional instability? Does it lead to a complete loss of control of the Syrian chemical and conventional weapons stockpile? Does it provoke an attack on Israel? What impact does it have on Turkey or Jordan? Why has the international community not responded to this heinous violation? The U.N.? NATO? The Arab League? The European Union?

I have attended the briefings and discussions held by the Obama Administration. On Tuesday, eight fellow Members of Congress and I met with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the situation in Syria. At this point, I have not been satisfied with the Administration’s responses to these questions, and I continue to oppose the use of military force in Syria.

Instead of committing our men and women in uniform to military action, President Obama and his Administration should work with the international community to seek solutions that bring those responsible for the use of chemical weapons to justice and that bring to an end the conflict in Syria that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

At first glance, the proposal to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control is a positive development. Because Russia is one of Syria’s closest allies and most important weapons suppliers, success will depend on independent verification and complete confidence that the stockpile is accounted for. A good solution would include a plan for destruction of the chemical weapons.

Many Western Pennsylvanians have contacted my office to share their thoughts and concerns, for which I am truly grateful. The vast majority of my constituents, and indeed most Americans, are opposed to taking any military action in Syria. I encourage my constituents to visit the website, fill out the survey, and share their thoughts and concerns about the situation in Syria.

Committing any of our men and women in uniform to military action is a very serious decision. I will continue to attend the briefings, review the documents, confer with my colleagues and the Administration, and listen to my constituents. Based on the information provided to date, I would vote no on the resolution if it came up for a vote in the House.


  • Let’s keep it that way.
    Going into any country let alone Syria with out any kind of plan is moronic.
    After all we are giving weapons to the same people we’ve been fighting since 2001. That in itself is stupid.

  • Nuke the whole Middle East! 90% of the world problems solved! Or, untie Israel’s hands and let them do what needs to be done. Be over in about 12 hours.

  • So, Keith, have you given any thought to what kind of job you’re going to look for after the next election?

    • Yeah , he is going to be sworn in for his second term as Congressman. The Democrats have now resorted to recruiting an 80 year old former Murtha aid to run against Keith. They know the 12th District is hopeless now for a Democrat to win. Get used to Keith. He is going to be around for a while and 2014 is going to be a bad year for Democrats everywhere. :smile:

  • If this was a Bush idea Rothfus would be doing op-eds on how great an idea it was. Rothfus is a wholly owned subsidary of the Right-wing looney bin. He gets his marching orders from the neo-Nazis in the Tea Party. Rothfus has voted 42 times to repeal the ACA costing taxpayers an estimated $45 million and countless hours of wasted time. He has voted the straight Tea Party line 100%. My question to Tea Party Keith – how many jobs bills have you introduced? Answer – none.

  • I wonder how Rep Rothfus feels about Israels strike against Syria in 2007 against its nuclear weapons program? Or the fact that Israel supports a US strike against Syria. Don’t see the teapublicans mentioning that tidbit of info. The majority of his so called questions have already been answered, he obviously must not have been paying attention.

    A limited, targeted strike against Syria’s chemical weapons capability can be accomplished with little risk to US military personal.

    • This whole Syrian fiasco has pointed out why President Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize…..he got the Teapublicans to be against sending our children to war!