Rep. Steve Russell Talks Syria Strikes, Russia And Pres. Trump
OKLAHOMA CITY - After the U.S. strikes against a Syrian airbase in response to a horrific chemical attack allegedly perpetrated by the Syrian regime, Congressman Steve Russell (R-OK) made it clear on Friday, he thought the strikes in Syria were necessary, likening the civil war in Syria to a diseased limb of the Middle East.
“Is this our job? No. I mean is this something we wanted to do? No. Wars and conflicts never are. But at some point, you have to realize like gang green… you have to cut it off,” he said.
Fears of Russian retaliation have been on the rise since the strikes on Thursday, which reportedly decimated an airstrip controlled by the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. is currently investigating whether Russia had any involvement with supplying the sarin nerve gas used in the attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the strike "an act of aggression" that could mean "negative consequences" for America, although what that means is unclear. Reports, however said a Russian warship had been located heading toward American destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea.
“We have had a lot of proxy wars against one another to include this one,” Russell said talking about potential escalation between the eastern super power. Late Friday afternoon, Putin severed military communication ties with the U.S. “I don't think Vladimir Putin, as shrewd as is, wants to take that on. However, the consequences will be a lot of continued unrest and escalation.”
Here at home, questions about whether President Donald Trump should have told the American people and our Allies before the strikes. Russell said Trump was well within his powers, but would like an explanation soon.
“People can try to build a house of cards about the president not having authority in this issue. They're wrong. [Congress] understands needing to act on these inhumane, barbaric acts. But moving forward if we do move in a different action we want clear policy,” Russell said.
Human rights advocates including Amnesty International and Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for claiming the 59-missile air strike was on behalf of the Syrian civilians while his proposed immigration order bans refugees from Syria.
Congressman Russell, however, dodged questions about presidential hypocrisy and whether there was talk of expanding the refugees allowed into the country.
“[Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] is looking at a lot of options on the table for how we deal with refugees,” Russell said. “But I will tell you the most humane thing that we can do is try to end the suffering within Syria.”
Russell ultimately said the strikes were justified, saying they were the difficult reaction to a horrific act.
“At some point the most humane thing you can do is act violently and that's what we had here in direct response,” he said.