Democrat Who Won John Kerry’s Senate Seat Opposes Syria Airstrikes

This is the guy who voted “present.”

Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey came in for some well-earned derision last week when—alone among Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee—he voted “present” on the Syrian airstrike resolution. A week later he has come with an opinion. He’s agin’ it.

I cannot support the resolution that passed the Foreign Relations Committee to use force in Syria because it is too broad, the effects of a strike are too unpredictable, and because I believe we must give diplomatic measures that could avoid military action a chance to work. I commend Secretary Kerry and President Obama for their steadfastness during this conflict, which has brought Syria and Russia back to the negotiating table.

And the statement goes on like this, from reference to the “wide range of experts on Syria and the region,” to how “media reports indicate that the broadening of the language already has led to the Pentagon also expand its list of targets,” and faith in “this new diplomatic option” to get out of the crisis.

That’s frustrating for some Syria advocates. Before Markey’s bold and heroic statement came out I talked to Yaser Tabbara, a spokesman for the Syrian rebel coalitions, who emphasized that the goal remains getting Assad out of there.

“This is a regime that’s conducted the killing of over 100,000 civilians in Syria using conventional weapons mostly,” he said. “Casualties from chemical weapons represent only a small portion of what’s taken place in Syria over past 2.5 years. But even a proposal like this, as non-believeable as it is, as not credible as it is, may be close to providing the much-needed protection.”