Rick Nolan draws hard line on Syria intervention

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) speaks on "Hardball" about the potential of war with Syria.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) speaks on “Hardball” about the potential of war with Syria.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) ran for Congress in this “mines and pines” northern Minnesota district with an unusually large amount of foreign policy in his platform. From Day 1 of his campaign, Nolan used language like “avoiding wars of choice” to have more funding for the things that matter back home.

This week, Nolan has weighed in heavily on President Obama’s consideration of using force to retaliate against the regime in Syria, which U.S. officials say used chemical weapons recently in its ongoing civil war with a mix of democratic and Islamic fundamentalist rebels. Bluntly, Nolan is against it.

We are war weary. These wars of choice and this so-called nation-building abroad is bankrupting this country. It’s causing nothing but trouble for us throughout the world and it’s time that this Congress step up.

With Obama’s rather historic decision (by recent standards) to bring war authorization to a vote in Congress, one wonders if the president will get the OK for force if Democrats like Nolan and many in the Republican majority join to oppose the measure.

We could debate whether the 2000s-era interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were good decisions, or whether some of the strongest pro-defense spending opponents of Syrian intervention now are using a double-standard. But really, it seems to me that there is a hulking, nationwide appetite to avoid another interventionist war, regardless of the circumstances. Obama’s decision to bring the matter to Congress might be a political disaster for him, but it may also serve to curb American tendencies toward such wars.

But as has been said, the president has staked out the ability to intervene anyway, if he decides.

UPDATE: Nolan reiterated his position today after a classified briefing on Syria:

After participating in a follow-up conference call this morning with Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Nolan released the following statement:
“I will vote and work against President Obama’s request for open-ended authority to launch military strikes against the Syrian army.
“After a three-hour classified briefing, and taking time to read all the classified documents, what I have heard and read has only served to convince me more than ever of the folly and danger of getting America involved in the Syrian civil war.

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