Ohio lawmakers react to speech

WASHINGTON – Despite President Barack Obama’s televised plea Tuesday night, several area lawmakers remain unconvinced that a military strike against Syria is a good idea.

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell, said he fears military action will commit the U.S. ”to a prolonged military action where civil war and hatred for the U.S. is the norm.”

”I cannot support military intervention,” Joyce, who represents the northern portion of Trumbull County, said Tuesday during a telephone interview from Washington.

His preference is to pursue an alternative to military action. A Russian proposal to secure Syria’s chemical weapons is ”still fresh” and needs further review.

”Before we incur the wrath of the region there, if there is an alternative we can explore short of military, it would certainly would be more responsible,” said Joyce.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said he believes the president sent a clear message in his address.

“I appreciate the president speaking directly to the American people and I am encouraged that the administration is pursuing an international response with clear objectives in Syria,” Brown said in a statement late Tuesday.

“We need to continue to seek a diplomatic solution and send a clear message to deter the threat of chemical weapons,” Brown said.

Obama on Tuesday in his televised address to the nation said he long resisted calls for military action in Syria because he didn’t think force could solve the Syrian civil war. But he said he changed his mind after Syria’s government gassed its own citizens.

He said the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 shifted his thinking and that the United States must respond with a military strike to deter future use of such weapons.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, said he believes military action is not the correct course of action. He spoke in opposition on the Senate floor Tuesday to a joint resolution authorizing the use of military force.

”I do not believe the administration’s proposal of a U.S. military strike is the right answer,” Portman said. ”There is no guarantee that it will prevent Assad’s (Syrian President Bashar Assad) use of chemical weapons.”

Portman said he believes military force will not end ”senseless bloodshed” in Syria, bring stability to the region or enhance Israel’s security, and is not part of a broader strategic plan for the region.

U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, remains undecided, according to a spokesman.

In response to his critics, Obama said no one disputes that chemical weapons were used and said thousands of Syrians have died from them. He said the images and videos of men, women and children are sickening and demand a response.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.