Rep. John Duncan (R-TN): We Don’t Need and Cannot Afford a War in Syria

Delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives, April 12, 2018

In the days leading up to the Congressional vote on whether to go to war in Iraq years ago, Fortune Magazine had an article headlined "We Win – What Then?"

The article said a prolonged war in Iraq would make American soldiers "sitting ducks for Islamic terrorists."

Another national magazine at that time, U.S. News and World Report, had an article headlined, "Why the Rush to War?"

Now that war has been frequently referred to as possibly the greatest foreign policy mistake in US History.

The night before the Iraq war vote, a television station in Knoxville had a poll showing 74% in favor of the war, 9% against, and 17% undecided. I was one of six Republicans who voted against going to war, and for three or four years, that certainly was the most unpopular vote I ever cast. But slowly, slowly, slowly, it became my most popular vote.

We were basically conned into that war by a group called Neo-Cons, so called neo-conservatives, who George Will once described as being "magnificently misnamed" because they were really the "most radical people in this City," meaning

In addition to our disaster in Iraq, we have now been at war in Afghanistan for 17 years, seemingly permanent, forever wars that have cost us trillions of dollars and caused many thousands of Americans to be killed or maimed.

What a waste.

President Reagan once said we should never go to war unless there were no other reasonable alternatives and then only as a very last resort.

We have had too many leaders who never went to war themselves, such as the new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who seem far too eager for others to go to war so these chicken-hawks can feel more important or think of themselves as modern day Winston Churchills.

Now we seem to be rushing into another war in Syria. I am thankful that conservatives like Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan are questioning this new rush to war.

At some point, with a $21 trillion national debt, we have to realize there are limits to American power.

Civil wars and really terrible things are happening all over the world – in Africa – in the Middle East – and other places all the time.

As President Kennedy said in one of his most famous speeches at the University of Washington, with only four percent of the world’s population, "we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity – and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem."

Most of the time, a military solution is the worst solution. There are many other ways we can help people who have been harmed through humanitarian, religious, or charitable organizations, or through the United Nations.

As Pat Buchanan wrote, President Trump is being "goaded into war," and that Congress should "debate our objectives in this new war and how many new casualties and years will be required to defeat the coalition of Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, Iran, and the allied Shiite militias from the Near East."

Tucker Carlson said we need to ask some skeptical questions now at least in part because Secretary Mattis said in February that we have absolutely no proof that Assad used the chemical weapons he was accused of using last year.

He added there is no real proof Assad did the chemical attacks this time because such an attack would really help only the rebels fighting Assad, and they also have chemical weapons, rebels who have been described as Islamic terrorists but who we are supporting. Mr. Carlson pointed out that Assad had no reason or incentive to use chemical weapons in a civil war his government had basically already won.

President Trump was elected in large part because he promised to get us out of these unnecessary wars in the Middle East.

Almost everything we have done in the Middle East over the last many years has been wrong. There has been fighting going on there for several thousand years.

Throughout history, other wars have been started over incidents or information that turned out to be false or greatly exaggerated.

We do not need nor can we afford to get into another trillion dollar war in the Middle East without first making sure it is absolutely in America’s interest to do so and that it will not make the Middle East even more messed up and chaotic than it already is.

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) represents Tennessee’s 2nd District. Congressman Duncan served honorably in both the US Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, starting as an enlisted man and rising to the rank of captain.

39 thoughts on “Rep. John Duncan (R-TN): We Don’t Need and Cannot Afford a War in Syria”

  1. Yet another plea for peace without mentioning the near unanimous votes for war by the GOP since Reagan. GOP =war it’s that simple. Do the arithmetic.

    1. Unfortunately, the Democrats are also supporting getting involved in this war.

      1. Suddenly a non Marxist Russia is our adversary? Why? What American territory or right to trade have they obstructed. They did more in past decade against AL Queda than US!

        1. It’s because Putin is leading Russia out of the damage that 75 years of Communism did that makes Russia our adversary. Doesn’t it make you sick to your stomach when you hear Trump and our military leaders brag that they were the ones that routed ISIS in Syria? Notice that Putin knows the truth about that but never gets into a pissing match with the U.S. over that. Putin has a mentally healthy ego, not a sick narcissistic one.

  2. Well, I missed this by Representative Duncan, Republican of Tennessee. We need more Republicans and more Democrats to speak out. No more war!

          1. A quote that he wants a Theocracy? He’s not even dumb enough to say that outright. I guess I came to that conclusion based on what comes out of his mouth about homosexuals or woman’s reproductive rights and how they violate the bible(not the constitution).

          2. Has he ever said that a church leader or church council should run the country and that Biblical interpretation by that authority, not the Constitution of the US or of the states, should be the sole authority for legal authority?

            No. No. No.

            Use the damn dictionary or research theocracies. You might start with Iran. Israel is getting there a lot faster than the US, but even Netanyahu doesn’t yet get elected by the Orthodox rabbis(I’m not even sure he keeps kosher or abandons the computer/phone on Saturday).

            Somehow I dont remember FDR or JFK bitching about gay rights or abortion. though both probably paid for lots of abortions, illegal as they were. Were they theocrats? FDR used to used “Almighty God” all over his speeches.

            Are you historically illiterate. You want to say early Mormon Utah was a theocracy? I give you that.

          3. Hey, pardon the f**k out of me for using the term so loosely. He’s not a theocrat, just an idiot.

          4. Is he inconsistent? Is there a logic behind his opinions? Yes. I disagree with his philosophical frame, but it is within a spectrum of legitimate options under the current Constitution.. He is not an idiot and I suggest you rebut those you disagree with by research and undetstanding of a complex federalism paradigm.

          5. Hey, I backed off the theocracy crack but I’m not backing off the idiot claim. Anyone who believes that the bible is anything more than a book of fables is an idiot in my opinion.

          6. Trump could not even himself win an honest plurality (never mind majority) of votes case in 2016. His sidekick Pence could not have been elected to anything above dog-catcher on his own. Installing Pence would be a profoundly anti-democratic act. He is welcome to his beliefs, but the overwhelming majority of US citizens utterly reject him. Nothing worse than a blood-spattered liar and murderer claiming to follow Jesus Christ.

          7. “His sidekick Pence could not have been elected to anything above dog-catcher on his own.”

            He was elected to six terms in the US House and one term as governor of Indiana.

          8. Yes, and he can go back to Indiana. I am very nervous about that pious trickster. If Trump self-destructs, he will in position to seize national power, something he could NEVER have earned on his own.

  3. How refreshing: A member of Congress emphasizing American interests, and at least suggesting that other members of Congress awaken and make their voice heard, as is their duty under the Constitution that they swore to protect. It is the duty of Congress to declare war if war is necessary–necessary meaning that if the United States is attacked, not because Israel wants to annex the Golan Heights or wants to assert hegemony in the region. What a state of affairs: the Congress itself as a fifth column.

  4. Do all gods love war as much and as often as the american gods; catholic, baptist, methodist, lutheran et al?

    Alas, yes, but not all gods are as rich as american gods; thus, them waging more wars and killing more people by far than other nations’ gods.

    But–and nevertheless american love of war and deep hatreds of many nations– attacking Syria is a no-no; on account that Russia cannot afford to bluff US; for it is at least 20 times weaker econo-militarily than the Nation Gang.

    But the Gang can afford and can ‘profit’ [harvest huge deaths of innocent people] from real or fake bluffs, threats, moves, sanctions, etc.

    Because of such analyses and others, i began saying since April 8 that i was 100% sure the Nation Gang, one of the most brutal and strongest ever, will not attack Syria over an alleged CW attack in Douma.

    But do admit that i was very fearful while saying it and i still am, but much less now than on the day of the alleged CW attack.

    Now we await what new the Gang will invent?

    1. I hope you’re right. It would be insanity to risk starting up World War III. I hope sounder brains prevail.

      1. Thanks, Herb. But, no war between the Nation Gang; aka, Nato and Russia.
        If there is one, i stick my neck out and say: All or most of the biota becomes powder.
        Trump onto it? I say: Yes!

  5. I kept waiting for the obligatory bashing of Assad to accompany any talk of not going to war with Syria.

  6. More Republicans than Democrates, albeit still too few, have been opposed to undeclared wars and rush to defend American “interests , whatever they are.

    The CNN/MSNBC New Hawks, along with the DNC, Congressional Dem leaders, can’t wait to take on Russia & China.

    They are not the Dems after Vietnam

    1. More Democrats than Republicans and by a wide margin. The Iraq invasion vote in the US house For: 215 Republicans + 81 Democrats Opposed: 6 Republicans + 126 Democrats. Unfortunately war is too popular with both of the US parties and much of the populace. Our media mostly support war and too many folks buy into American exceptionalism.

  7. Jeez, what a breath of fresh air! Someone in congress who actually reasons and has common sense.

    1. Unfortunately, Congressman John Duncan is not seeking re-election. He’s been the longest serving congressman from Tennessee.

  8. Is Syria plotting an invasion of America? Tell me again how many landing craft their Marines have? Is Iran? Is Russia?
    What exactly is a “threat to our national security?”

  9. Who were the Republicans who stood for the Constitutional restriction on the President’s ability to wage war, reserving that right exclusively for the People, through their electing representatives in Congress?

    In other words, who were the Republicans with courage enough to stand for their own state principles (and they were few in number)?

    They were:

    John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, Tennessee (incumbent Congressman, TN-2)
    John Hostettler, Indiana
    Amo Houghton, New York
    James Leach, Iowa
    Constance Morella, Maryland
    Ron Paul, Texas
    Lincoln Chaffee, Senate, Rhode Island

    107th Congress-2nd Session 455th Roll Call Vote of by members of the House of Representatives
    107th Congress-2nd Session 237th Roll Call Vote by members of the Senate

  10. Trump was NOT elected in large part based on his opposition to needless wars. Didn’t he boast during one of the GOP primary debates that he was the most militaristic candidate in the room? I guess it depends on whichever of Trump’s contradictory, mercurial statements you chose to cherry-pick.

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