[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 201 (Thursday, December 20, 2018)]
[Page S7981]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today in response to the 
President's announcement on the withdrawal of troops from Syria.
  Like many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, I am deeply 
concerned that prematurely withdrawing American troops from Syria is 
contrary to the advice of senior national security officials and that 
the President's announcement will have negative consequences for our 
country's national security interests. I am also concerned about the 
implications of U.S. withdrawal for the security of our allies and for 
innocent civilians in Syria.
  Since August of this year, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of 
State, and National Security Advisor have all suggested that the Syrian 
conflict requires sustained U.S. commitment. Just last week, the 
administration's Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to 
Defeat ISIS said that ``we can't just pick up and leave'' Syria. This 
week, the U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement said that 
the U.S. would remain in Syria until the U.S. achieves three 
objectives: ensuring the defeat of the Islamic State, reducing Iranian 
influence, and reaching a political solution to resolve the crisis. The 
President's announcement contradicts the advice of our diplomats and 
military leaders and fails to address these issues.
  These concerns are shared by our key allies, including Israel and 
Jordan. The withdrawal of U.S. troops will also abandon the Kurds, who 
have been our partners in the region. Once again, we see the U.S. 
abandoning critical alliances in favor of narrow and ill-defined aims.
  I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of the ongoing Syrian 
conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis, which has led to the worst 
refugee crisis since World War II. In 2015, I visited a Greek refugee 
center and met with officials who are dealing with the crisis. I saw 
groups of children who had traveled alone to try to find better lives, 
but when we tried to ask one little boy about his story, he did not 
want to tell us because he and all his friends were afraid that they 
would be sent back home. I also visited the Za'atari refugee camp in 
Jordan, where we heard about atrocities taking place in Syria that one 
refugee said would ``make stones cry.''
  This crisis is not over, and it requires an international response 
and clear U.S. policy. There are no easy solutions in Syria. But what 
we need is leadership and a comprehensive plan based on the expertise 
of those on the frontlines, not hasty and ill-informed decision-making.
  Thank you.