Manchin pushing Syria alternative

Sen. Joe Manchin provided details Monday on the finer points of a Senate resolution – one which demands Syria join the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 – giving the Assad regime 45 days to turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons or face consequences.

Manchin, D-W.Va., co-sponsored the legislation with North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. The Chemical Weapons Control and Accountability Resolution provides an alternative to President Obama’s plan of a limited military strike on Syria.

“Being a global super power means more than super military might,” Manchin said in a telephone conference Monday. “It means super diplomacy, super humanitarian aid, super restraint. After a decade of war (in the Middle East), I don’t believe we have changed the direction of that region, nor do I believe we ever will change it. If military might would have done it, we would have seen a change by now.”

Obama has gone to Congress to seek support for a military action after international authorities alleged Syrian President Bashar Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his own people in August, killing 1,400.

Obama has said he is not seeking a regime change in the country, but has sought answers to his questions of whether a military strike would be in America’s best interests. A military strike, however, has not received support of America’s allies abroad.

“I do not believe there is a threat to America,” Manchin said. “I do not believe a military strike is necessary.”

The resolution would give Syria 45 days to agree to a chemical weapons ban and to turn over its stockpile to international authorities. The move has the support of Syria’s ally Russia, Manchin said.

“The heinous crime against humanity cannot be ignored,” Heitkamp said. “I strongly believe we need the entire world, not just America, to prevent and deter the use of chemical weapons in Syria or anywhere else in the world.

“If after 45 days, the Assad regime mistakes our deliberate and careful democratic process for a lack of will and immunity, it does so at its own peril,” she added.

The resolution also calls for Obama to adopt a long-term strategy regarding Syria, specifically detailing what he believes the situation would be if a military strike would occur and what he believes the situation would be if America does not intervene in the civil war.

“This is the most reasonable approach, and I hope the White House views it as a viable option,” Manchin said. “You would love to see the civil war come to an end, but I don’t think we as a country can stop a civil war.”

Manchin also expressed concern that the coalition trying to oust Assad is being backed by a branch of al-Qaida. He said if the rebels were to be successful, it would give al-Qaida an even stronger foothold in the region.

“It’s hard to stomach coming to the aid of people who are trying to kill Americans and the American way of life,” Manchin said.