In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH) said his positions on whether or not to intervene militarily in Syria were closer to the Obama administration’s than to fellow Congressional Republicans.
While the Obama administration has reportedly given some support to regional allies’ efforts to arm rebels, as well as some other support, the U.S. has eschewed direct military involvement in the intensifying civil war. Right-wing hawks in Congress, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have called on the administration to directly arm rebels and even carry out U.S. air strikes.
Blitzer asked Boehner directly about U.S. military intervention and whether his position put him closer to the Obama administration than McCain:
BLITZER: Would you support U.S. military action, not necessarily troops on the ground, but air power, cruise missiles, arming of the rebels?
Would you go that far at this point to get rid of Bashar al- Assad?
BOEHNER: I don’t think that — that we ought to go that far. Now, it’s clear that the opposition is making progress. It’s also clear that they are receiving assistance from their friends in the region.
And I don’t think, at this point that it calls for that type of military intervention on our part.
BLITZER: So, on this issue, you’re with the Obama administration, basically, and not, let’s say, with John McCain?
BOEHNER: I’ve — probably correct, because I believe that Assad has to go. But I don’t think that we need to overly involve ourselves to the extent of direct military action.
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Boehner’s position puts him in line with U.S. public opinion. A CNN poll last month found that, overall, six in ten Americans don’t want to get militarily involved in the civil war. According to those results, Boehner is also in line with adherents of his own party. 58 percent of Republicans agreed that the U.S. shouldn’t get involved.
Boehner noted that the Syrian rebels made recent, if sometimes fleeting, gains with the reported killings of four top officials from Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime and the seizure of some border crossings.