America’s role in Syria: High stakes either way

WASHINGTON — If America doesn’t get involved militarily in Syria and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls, what will happen to the country’s massive stockpile of chemical weapons — could they fall into even more dangerous hands?

That’s one of the questions Virginia politicians from both sides of the party line debated in a special Town Hall WTOP hosted on Friday about America’s role in the escalating Syrian crisis and the possible ramifications of diplomacy, military action or maintaining the status quo.

Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Jim Moran, both Democrats, and Republican representatives Frank Wolf and Rob Wittman offered differing opinions, but all agreed on one thing: The situation is tenuous and the stakes are high.

“If you destabilize and Assad falls, the weapons there, who is going to get them?” Wolf asked before Moran weighed in.

“These weapons are more lethal and more dangerous than any used in the past,” Moran said.

Wittman continued, “If those chemical weapons fall into the hands of others, you haven’t solved the problem. You’ve only made it worse. And the U.S. will have to face those weapons again, perhaps in more dangerous hands.”

While Wittman and Wolf said they would not support military action at this time, Warner and Moran disagreed.

“I do think there are ramifications of acting,” Warner, who participated by telephone, said. “We all know the negative implications of acting. But what about the negative implications of not acting?”

Callers asked about the role of the United Nations, the perilous situation for Syrian Christians — who don’t like Assad, but are protected by him, according to Wolf — and whether Russia can be trusted.

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