Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presented the Obama administration's case for a military strike on Syria to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. They were joined by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the first formal step toward seeking congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria.
In a statement, a senior State Department official outlined their argument:
"[Kerry] will argue that the failure to take action against Assad unravels the deterrent impact of the international norm against chemical weapons use; endangers our friends and our partners along Syria's borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq; and risks emboldening Assad and his key allies -- Hezbollah and Iran -- who will see that there are no consequences for such a flagrant violation of international standards."
Committee Chair Robert Menendez, D-N.J., supports military intervention in Syria. In a statement, he said that limited military force was "justified and necessary given the Assad regime's reprehensible use of chemical weapons and gross violation of international law." The ranking member, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also supports a limited intervention (though, like Menendez, may prefer a revised, even more limited version of the authorization bill), as do committee members Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Chris Coons, D-Del. Committee member John McCain, R-Ariz., would like even more intervention than is allegedly planned, while many committee members haven't publicly made up their mind yet.