October 3, 2014
As military action against ISIS continues, I wanted to update you on my thinking. I support the actions that the President has taken thus far and believe he has authority to act without specific Congressional approval at this time. I support the air campaign against ISIS and appreciate the Presidentís efforts to build an international coalition. I think it is especially important that the Administration secured the active military involvement of other Middle East countries with Islamic majorities.
As you may recall, I voted against the request for funds to ďtrain and equipĒ the Syrian opposition for many reasons, including:
- Our efforts to strengthen the Iraqi army evidently failed. Indeed, Iraqi forces broke and ran from ISIS when confronted. I have little confidence that we can identify trustworthy elements of the Syrian opposition and have better success with them. Remember, a year ago, some Members of Congress called for the training and equipping of anti-Assad forces. ISIS was part of that group, so they too would have received our help.
- Political intelligence is imperfect, and even the numbers cited arenít adding up. Consensus estimates have the total Syrian opposition fighting force at around 5,000 and the ISIS force between 10,000 and 30,000.
If our goal is to destroy ISIS, I believe ground troops will be required, and I have many questions about the wisdom of such a commitment. I think anyone pushing us in that direction must explain how other counties will contribute to that effort as well as the extent and duration of their commitment. I also believe that we should have a defined goal set out before expanding our commitment ó what would success look like?
I also want to know more about whether advocates of a broader role have fully considered the consequences of further action with regard to the complex politics of the region, the tension between the Sunni states that support us thus far, and Shiite Iran. We are now involved in delicate negotiations seeking to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Have the advocates fully considered how broader military action in the region might impact those negotiations?
I am certainly not ready to commit the US military to another Middle East quagmire with uncertain goals and results. Even when we defeat ISIS, and I do not doubt that we would, another terrorist group could eventually spring up in their place, as ISIS arose from the ruins of al Qaeda.
As I remain deeply skeptical about greater U.S. involvement in the region, I continue to believe that Congress has a role in the formation of foreign policy and, moreover, that the President must seek specific Congressional authority for the broad use of military force. The War Powers Act allows the President 60 days before approval must be obtained. On August 9th the first airstrikes inside Iraq with a defensive mission began and on September 15th that mission inside Iraq expanded. On September 22nd, the first strikes began inside Syria. Given that timeline, I believe that Congress must be consulted soon. Thank you all for you input so far and for your continued support.
I met this week with representatives from Union Square Station Associates (US2) who were recently chosen to redevelop a portion of Union Square in Somerville. With a Green Line T stop planned for the neighborhood, the economic potential is enormous. At the same time, it is important that long term businesses and residents of the Square are not left behind as the area is transformed. I wanted to learn more about US2ís plans for Union Square, particularly how they planned to keep neighbors and businesses informed as work commences.
Mass Lobstermenís Association
The Mass Lobstermenís Association (MLA) met with me to discuss concerns they have with a recently enacted rule amending the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. In an effort to better protect whales, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is reducing the amount of time lobstermen can spend in areas off the east coast of Massachusetts. The idea is to reduce activity in this area during times of increased whale activity. One of the concerns officials have is that whales can get caught on buoy lines attached to lobster traps. MLA understands this concern and tells me that they are working with their members to use lines that break away from the buoy when a whale collides with it. This greatly reduces the possibility of a whale becoming entangled with the trapline. MLA has asked NMFS to review and accept a Vertical Line Rule exemption which was submitted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. This would reduce the economic impact that the rule change has had on the stateís lobstermen.