Posted at: 09/14/2013 12:02 AM
Updated at: 09/14/2013 12:08 AM
By: Dan Levy
KINDERHOOK - Congressman Paul Tonko (D - Amsterdam) and Congressman Chris Gibson (R - Kinderhook) are already on record opposed to U.S. military action in Syria. Friday night they both reiterated the need to stay the course on diplomacy.
Tonko says a U.S. air strike would result in "consequences beyond belief", and he believes the threat of a military attack has already served a sueful purpose.
"I think we're at the table because (Assad) knew our might," Tonko said. "He's at the table because of the possibility of expressing that might."
Chris Gibson says he's encouraged by the latest turn of events, meaning the negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, who are currently involved in talks that could lead to the Syrian regime handing over their stockpile of chemical weapons to international control.
"Our goals should be ending this civil war," Gibson says, "We need to get control of those chemical weapons but we should not be exclusively focused on the chemical weapons. We should be working at bringing the warring factions together."
Gibson also believes there needs to be stricter economic sanctions.
"If we're going to get serious about this we need to ratchet up the pressure as it relates to their ability to move capital inside their country and outside their country," Gibson asserts.
Even though both congressmen believe Syrian leader Assad is now involved in disbursing his chemical stockpile, they believe he also needs to be punished if he used those weapons on his own people. One thing they don't believe should happen is any U.S. involvement in removing Assad from power.
"I think the regime change, if we get involved there," Tonko suggests, "it's very easy to get labeled as the demon in the equation. If you displace (Assad), what's the replacement?"
Secretary of State Kerry and his Russian counterpart are scheduled to resume talks on Saturday. They have also made it clear that until the chemical weapons issue is resolved, they will not discuss prospects for a broader peace.