1st District GOP candidates oppose military intervention in Syria

Blum and Rathje don't think Syria poses a threat to United States security

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Two Republicans vying for the party’s nomination in Iowa’s 1st District are urging the state’s congressional delegation to reject President Obama’s request for authorization to go to war in Syria.

Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids and Rod Blum of Dubuque have joined state Republican Party officials in calling on congressmen to vote against authorizing military force.

Although both Blum and Rathje believe there is ample reason to believe Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens, neither believes Syria poses a threat to United States security.

Assad’s actions against his own people are “unconscionable,” Rathje said in a statement released Monday. But “these actions pose no direct threat toward the people of the United States, our sovereign borders, or our vital national interests.”

Blum gave Obama credit for making the right decision in seeking congressional authorization before engaging the U.S. military in attacks on Syria.

“The decision to declare war belongs to the American people as represented by their elected officials in Congress,” Blum said.

Both candidates called on Iowa’s six congressmen to reject authorization if it comes to a vote in the Senate and House.

“The American people overwhelmingly support keeping the U.S. out of yet another country’s civil war,” Blum noted.

“Listen to your constituents,” Rathje said.

Obama’s request for congressional approval and his statements about the limited scope of military action “indicates to me that he does not see the Syrian situation as a true threat to the security of the United States,” Blum said.

Rathje and Blum join GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker and 30 conservative Iowa leaders in opposing military action in Syria.

“While the news reports out of Syria are troubling,” they wrote to Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King, “we know from experience that America getting involved will only make things worse.”

The GOP leaders also cited a poll showing just 9 percent of Americans want the military involved in Syria.

The Senate may vote as soon as Wednesday on authorizing military action against Syria.

First District Democratic candidates have, for the most part, opposed military action in Syria. Like Rathje and Blum, they expressed outrage, but argued against unilateral intervention.


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