Manchin supports diplomacy with Syria

WASHINGTON – The United States must use “super diplomacy” before unleashing its military might on Syria where the regime used chemical weapons in its civil war, a West Virginia senator said Monday.

Being a super power means more than using military might, said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who last week said he would oppose a U.S. military attack against Syria.

On Monday, Manchin urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to sign onto the Chemical Weapons Convention. A resolution supported by Manchin is before the Senate for a 45-day period for Assad to agree to the convention, which is supported by Russia and prohibits the use of the weapons, production and stockpiling, Manchin said.

At the end of 45 days all aspects of U.S. military power will be considered, he said.

“Without telegraphing it” before it occurs, Manchin said.

Manchin held a press conference Monday with West Virginia reporters where he reiterated he opposes a military strike in Syria. The press briefing was postponed from last week.

The chemical weapons attack occurred on Aug. 21 in the suburbs of Damascus.

Siding with the rebels is not clear-cut, either, Manchin said. A faction of al Qaida, the terrorist organization that launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on U.S. soil, is connected to the rebels, Manchin said.

After more than 10 years of war and $2 trillion spent, nothing has changed in the Middle East, Manchin said. Other nations are reluctant to participate in a strike with the United States and the Arab League won’t come to the aid of its own people, he said.

“Why should we,” Manchin said.

A resolution by Manchin and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., gives Syria 45 days to sign the chemical weapons convention. It delays a military response for that period, during which time the president must submit a plan for Syria to Congress.

Of West Virginia’s congressional delegation, Manchin and Reps. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., are opposed to military action. Rep. Nick Rahall is in support.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has not announced.

President Barack Obama is expected to address the nation today in making his case for the strike against Syria.