Jacksonville, FL - The military action is designed to be limited, with the intention to degrade chemical weapons capabilities in Syria and deter the Assad government from future use.
And while Florida’s Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson tells me he supports that strike, it’s hard to tell what will come from it.
“Every day that we face adversaries, there’s always the possibility of going in to a full-fledged war, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t protect our national security interests,” Nelson says.
He says he has met with the regime several times, and knows their capabilities. Further, he’s seen the evidence the US says it has proving the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its people- evidence which Nelson calls conclusive.
And knowing that, he says the US has to intervene.
“We are the only country in the world that has the military capacity to go in and enforce this,” he says.
I asked Nelson about the risks that the US would encounter with a strike. With the time that has passed since the President said he would authorize a strike and now we’ve had several ally nations step up in support, but others have stood in support of Syria. Some, like Iran, even threatening retaliatory action if the US strikes. Nelson says it’s a concern, but that we are prepared.
“Remember what they’re facing- they’re facing the full weight of the United States Military,” he says.
Even with the risks, he says the risks of not acting would be even more harmful.
“What do you think that that would send as a message to other rogue nations?”
The only challenge in his view is getting members of Congress to look past their initial “knee-jerk reactions” against the war in favor of actually seeing the evidence in play.
“A lot of the members of Congress are reflecting what is the public opinion right now, because the Americans people just simply do not want to get in to another protracted war,” he says.
He thinks the President made a smart move allowing time to educate politicians and the public.
Ultimately, I asked him if the President should push ahead with a strike if Congress doesn’t approve. He tells me he “rejects” that hypothetical situation because he expects the resolution to pass. Nelson thinks there will be a tight vote in the House, but is happy to see Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner supporting the strike.