Seattle, WA – Today, Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) released the following statement on American military action in Syria.

It seems clear that the Assad regime has used deadly chemical weapons against the Syrian people in blatant violation of the international ban against such weapons. I condemn these atrocities unequivocally.

And yet, as the thunder of the war drums escalates, we cannot allow the din to drown out the careful and complete consideration of our actions. 

Today, President Obama spoke of America’s moral responsibility to address these crimes. I too believe in accountability, but we are also bound by the ethics of democracy and international lawfulness. To take action unilaterally, without the approval of Congress and without the support of our foreign allies, concedes our moral authority. Our Constitutional checks and balances must be honored.

We must ask: What is our national interest here? What is our end goal? Our past habit of reaction without thought to long-term and unintended consequences will yield the results we’ve had in the past: protracted conflicts that accomplish little, if anything. We have no way of telling what chain of events will domino with our involvement, “limited” or otherwise.

I’m not a pacifist. I’m not one who thinks that there is never a time for war. But we must enter into military action with full understanding of its gravity.

In the wake of two of the longest wars in U.S. history, we have more than just a responsibility to proceed with caution. We have a moral obligation to the lives of the men and women who may be asked to fight, to the taxpayers who will once again pay to wade into another country’s turmoil, and to the lives of the innocent Syrians who will no doubt become collateral damage.