Johnson won’t back Syria action

Local Syria protesters can breathe easy, at least for now. U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson is not backing military involvement in Syria.

President Barack Obama’s Tuesday speech was the deciding factor for the congressman, who issued a statement explaining his reasoning afterward.

“I listened carefully to the president, as I’ve listened in other briefings and hearings. Although the president is suddenly suggesting a diplomatic solution with Russia and Syria – neither of whom we have any hope can be trusted – nothing Mr. Obama or his team said convince me that his proposed strikes in Syria will have any real effect in preventing any future chemical weapons attacks,” he said.

He went on to say the president does not seem to “fully appreciate how volatile the Middle East currently is, and how a haphazard military action might have the same effect as a random match tossed into a barn full of dry hay.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has threatened the U.S. if involvement moves forward, but the president doesn’t believe the threat carries much weight. He is accusing Assad of being responsible for the August poison gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

Johnson’s post-address comments reflected the opinion of several local protesters who held signs along state routes 7 and 14 Monday in Columbiana. The signs urged voters to encourage Johnson to oppose the attack and they believe involvement will open the door to another war, possibly on a world scale.

Johnson also said in the statement that during his 26 years in the Air Force he commanded troops in tense times, “even as great nations inched toward war,” and his experiences steeled his resolve to fight when the U.S. national interests were directly threatened.

Lawmakers were originally scheduled to vote on Wednesday but the president called for a delay. NBC news reported this week about 60 percent of Americans want Congress to vote against the air attack. The figure was taken from a Wall Street Journal poll.

A phone call to U.S. Tim Ryan in Washington D.C. was not answered Wednesday afternoon and an e-mail to one of his staff members was not immediately returned.

The local protesters said they intended to communicate their concerns to him as well to encourage a no vote.