DENVER (CBS4) – Members of Congress are split over whether to use military force in Syria, and Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, says he’s not ready to support a military strike.

Coffman told CBS4’s Howard Nathan that President Barack Obama has a tough sell ahead of him. He said he has to be convinced a U.S. military strike in Syria can prevent the Bashar Al-Assad government from using chemical weapons again.

“Well, there are no easy options,” Coffman said.

Coffman says the delay in striking Assad has wasted precious time.

“The Assad government has had all the time in the world to move their assets around so they don’t present themselves as easy targets,” he said.

Coffman is not gung-ho for a strike. Not until it’s proven to him it would not lead to a protracted military engagement. He also wonders if Assad is chased from power, what then?

“I’m not sure there are any really good guys out there, that in a vacuum of power it is certainly possible that an al Qaeda-linked organization could surface in its place,” he said.

That’s a concern University of Denver’s Associate Director of Middle East Studies Danny Postel has been monitoring.

“On the ground what you see is a very small presence. The actual numbers of the foreign Jihadi numbers are much smaller, but they’re disproportionately influential. They’re some of the best groups, and so it’s a very murky question,” Postel said.

Postel co-authored a new book “The Syria Dilemma.”

“There are about maybe eight, nine, 10 different positions in the book arguing for intervention, against intervention,” he said.

His favorite idea is creating a safe zone for civilians.

“The key thing is not intervening to topple regimes; it’s intervening to protect civilians,” Postel said.

Postel said Obama has not yet shown Congress the smoking gun that proves Assad is behind the chemical attack. He argues a much stronger case for intervening, somehow, is the 100,000 dead, or crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime.

Congress votes on an attack Sept. 9.


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