As you read this column, I want you to ask yourself this question: do you believe the world will be more or less dangerous ten years from now? While our nation may face a variety of challenges, one issue affects us all – our national security.

I believe my number one priority as South Dakota’s representative in Congress is to protect the people I serve. Not only is this my top priority, but it should be our federal government’s as well. Unfortunately, recent actions from the Administration have not reflected our duty and responsibility to keep America secure.

The president has pushed for military intervention in Syria and lobbied members of the House and Senate to support his decision. While I applaud him for coming to Congress to seek approval rather than initiate military action on his own accord, I cannot and will not support the president’s plan for a targeted military strike in Syria.

From the beginning, I’ve been very skeptical of the president’s call for limited strikes in Syria because he has failed to give the American people a coherent objective and long-term strategy. Like many of you, I tuned in this week to listen to the president’s address to the nation. I hoped to find answers to pending questions I have, such as how military action would leave the United States more secure and what the consequences of failure might be. Unfortunately, I was left wanting.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have participated in hours of hearings and briefings and even after all of that, I have more questions than answers. What we need is leadership from the Administration. From government agencies overstepping their bounds to a lack of transparency surrounding the Benghazi attack, South Dakotans are reluctant to trust this Administration. President Obama should come to the table with his palms up and have an honest conversation about what engaging in military action would mean for our men and women in uniform. It’s time to put political legacies aside and focus on putting America first.

Ask yourself another question – are we going to start a war because we are strong or because we are weak? The Administration’s argument in support of intervention has been muddled to say the least. Secretary Kerry stated that “limited action” does not mean the United States is going to war with Syria, but if the United States was fired upon, we would deem it an act of war that demanded retaliation. Why would Syria respond differently?

Our nation’s credibility is at stake. Without a clear objective and end game, military action would expose our national security to potential retaliation and involvement in a conflict that lacks a clear solution.

I will not be supporting the president’s plan if it comes to a vote in Congress, but I remain hopeful that a legitimate diplomatic solution can be reached. As President Ronald Reagan once said while negotiating with the then-Soviet Union, we must “trust, but verify.” Any deal that involves Syria turning over their chemical weapons for destruction must be transparent and verifiable for all nations involved.

I’ve heard from thousands of South Dakotans on this issue and would encourage you to reach out and let me know your thoughts. Please send me an email through my website at or call one of my offices using the contact information below.

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