Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, says the debate over whether to attack Syria is at least as much a debate about Iran.
Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Coats said Iran‘s nuclear ambitions represent a direct threat to the U.S. that Syria’s reported use of nerve gas does not. He says the U.S. needs to preserve a credible military deterrent to Iran, and he has been concerned for the last decade that fiscal strain and public weariness from wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya will leave the U.S. unwilling to take a firm stand where it is most needed.
“My constant fear here in the past couple years is that our country will be too militarily, politically, and economically exhausted to confront the real strategic enemy when our core interests require it,” he says.
While the White House has warned failure to act could embolden Iran, Coats says the U.S. needs to consider whether carrying out a strike could have that effect.
As he did last week, Coats says he won‘t make a final decision on voting to authorize a strike until after President Obama addresses the nation on Syria Tuesday.
The Senate plans to open debate on the resolution Wednesday.
The Courier Journal reported last week that Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, had not made up his mind on whether he would vote to authorize military action in Syria.
Indiana’s representatives have been largely opposed to a strike, although Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, has said the U.S. should not stand by idle.
Former senator Richard Lugar and former representative Lee Hamilton both expressed similar concerns last week about inaction.