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updated: 9/4/2013 4:00 PM

Schakowsky: 'Shadow of Iraq' slowing Congress on Syria

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  • Jan Schakowsky

    Jan Schakowsky


U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky believes there is more than enough evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of its citizens, but she understands her congressional colleagues' hesitation to back party leaders' support for an American military response.

Schakowsky believes the vote to invade Iraq in 2002, which was based on faulty intelligence that former despot Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, has made Congress gun-shy.

"I think the shadow of Iraq is very long, and there's no question about it, it will affect United States foreign policy throughout this century, if not longer," the Evanston Democrat said. "It's the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the U.S. and we'll be paying for it for a very long time, and not just in terms of money."

Schakowsky voted against invading Iraq in 2002.

As one of two Illinois representatives on the 21-member House Intelligence Committee, Schakowsky said she's seen evidence that supports the Obama administration's assertion that the Syrian government used Sarin gas to kill almost 1,500 rebels -- including hundreds of children -- as part of an ongoing civil war gripping the Middle Eastern country. Obama has proposed missile strikes in response.

But Schakowsky is unsure that a military response will change much in the region.

"It's a serious problem if there's no response," Schakowsky said. "That doesn't mean a military response. I do believe in the evidence, but the question that I have is there's no way for a negotiated settlement?"

Schakowsky said the intelligence committee is meeting Monday to discuss Syria. She said she would be "very surprised" if the House held a vote on military action in Syria on Monday.

Schakowsky isn't alone. Many of her suburban congressional colleagues are not sold on the idea of a military response in Syria.

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, the Republican deputy whip from Wheaton, hasn't publicly spoken about Syria.

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