Senator Alexander To Vote ‘No' On Syrian Strike - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Senator Alexander To Vote ‘No' On Syrian Strike

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senator Lamar Alexander announced plans to vote against President Barack Obama's plan to launch a limited military strike in Syria.

The Republican senator made the announcement Monday at the Nashville Rotary Club. He said there was too much uncertainty over what the United States would do following a strike.

"I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict," Sen. Alexander said.

A new Associated Press poll showed a majority of Americans oppose a U.S. strike on Syria, despite a weeks-long Obama administration campaign to respond to chemical weapons attacks the U.S. blames on President Bashar Assad's regime.

Most of those surveyed said they believe even limited U.S. attacks -- as President Barack Obama has promised -- would lead to a long-term commitment of military forces in Syria.

Only 20 percent of Americans thought U.S. military action in Syria would deter other rogue nations from using their own weapons of mass destruction in the future.

In an interview with CBS News reporter Charlie Rose, Syrian President Bashar Assad disputed claims his government launched the chemical weapons attack.

He said there was "not (a) single shred of evidence" he used chemical weapons on his own people, and that an attack would lead to destabilization in the region and could lead to more attacks on U.S. interests. (See the report from CBS News.)

"They should expect everything. They should expect everything – not necessarily from the government. The governments are not the only player in this region. We have different parties. We have difference factions. We have different ideology. We have everything in this region now and I think you have to expect that," said Assad.

Rose asked if "expect everything" included chemical warfare.

"That depends. If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen. I don't know. I'm not (a) fortune teller to tell you what's going to happen," said Assad.

Alexander said the U.S. should explore other options besides an airstrike.

"There should be other ways - more appropriate to America's vital national security interests - to discourage and show our disgust with the Syrian government's apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people," said Alexander.

The senator has participated by telephone in briefings with senior administration officials and spoke this past weekend with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Alexander's Tennessee colleague, Senator Bob Corker, collaborated with Democratic Senator Bob Menendez in writing the resolution authorizing U.S. force.

U.S. officials have been considering a Russian proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons to international control to avoid a military strike.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday the U.S. would consider the proposal floated by the foreign ministers of Russia and Syria with "serious skepticism" because it might be a stalling tactic. She said Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.

That's been a top White House argument as it seeks congressional approval to strike Syria.

The proposal came after Secretary of State John Kerry said in London on Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad could end the crisis by turning over all his chemical weapons. Harf said Kerry wasn't putting forth a formal proposal.

(NewsChannel 5 and The Associated Press.)

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