Curbelo Discusses Syria, U.S.-Russia Relations, Fight Against ISIS on Local 10’s This Week in South Florida
On Sunday, Representatives Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Ted Deutch (FL-22) appeared together on WPLG -Local 10’s This Week in South Florida to discuss their views on the situation in Syria, U.S.-Russia relations and the state of the fight against ISIS.
Curbelo reaffirmed his belief that U.S. policy should be focused on ensuring Bashar al-Assad has no future in Syria, and suggested using sanctions and aggressive diplomatic efforts to force him out. Curbelo also reiterated his condemnation of Vladmir Putin and highlighted the failed attempts by previous Administrations to work with Russia as an ally.
A partial transcript of Curbelo’s comments are available below. A video of the full exchange is available here.
U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo
Curbelo: "And Michael, I agree. I'm actually a co-sponsor to an AUMF specifically to address the Islamic State, ISIS, and I think we should also authorize the use of force in Syria. I think a lot of Republicans and Democrats came together last week to say, 'Yes, we agree, Assad cannot proceed with impunity.' For years, he's been gassing innocent people to death, children. That cannot be allowed to happen in the year 2017, in what we would like to think of as a civilized world.
"I think the Congress just needs to make it official that we are at war with the Islamic State and that we need to win that war and also that we are not going to tolerate Bashar al-Assad, or really any UN-recognized leader to gas innocent people to death."
Curbelo: "But I will say, the President of the United States, no President of the United States needs to seek authorization to respond to world emergencies. I would argue that what we saw in Syria was a world emergency. I think President Obama should have done what President Trump did four years ago. If there is going to be an extended campaign, absolutely presidents have to go to Congress, but chemical weapons were used in a country where U.S. troops were present, innocent people, including children were gassed to death. An immediate response was required. I am glad the Administration didn't dither and wait as the previous Administration did in 2013, arguing that they needed to seek authorization from Congress, when they didn't for that immediate first response."
Curbelo: "I believe that the United States' position should be that Bashar al-Assad has no future in Syria. Now, does that mean that we invade Syria? Does that mean that we are going to launch a military campaign to remove him? No. But it means we continue pressuring our allies and the rest of the world through sanctions to remove Assad from power. He is the most evil person in the world right now. He is the greatest terrorist in the world right now and he should not be leading any country."
On U.S.-Russia Relations
Curbelo: "I hope this Administration finally understands that we cannot count on the Russians. It's actually kind of unfortunate, we've now had three presidents in a row in this country believe that Vladmir Putin could somehow be trusted – President Bush, at one point, said he looked into his soul and that he could trust him, President Obama outsourced this Syria situation to Vladmir Putin and that hasn't worked out, and this Administration, President Trump during the campaign said that he thought we could work with Russia. The Russians are not our friends. We need to put pressure on them to do the right thing, we can never just trust them."
On the Fight Against ISIS
Curbelo: "Look, I do believe in peace through strength, and of course we have to be measured and we don't want to launch new wars because that's just not the way to do things in the world. However, we do need to send a strong message that groups like ISIS are not going to be able to proceed with impunity.
"ISIS has been operating in the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan for a long time now. I visited Afghanistan at the beginning of last year and the generals there were very concerned. And I do support the sending of these strong and clear messages that the United States is going to lead in the world, in a smart way, in a restrained way, but that we are not simply going to sit back and watch as the world burns."