Craig Williams

Richmond, Kentucky is the last site in the U.S. to continue storing the type of chemical weapons allegedly used in Syria.  The nerve agents Sarin and VX, banned worldwide, are housed at the Bluegrass Army Depot. 

Considered two of the world's most deadly chemical warfare agents, the stockpile is on schedule to be destroyed by 2023. 

One of the people overseeing the destruction is Craig Williams, the Chemical Weapons Project Director at the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.  He spoke to WKU Public Radio about the weapons stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot.

Saturday, the U.S. and Russia announced an agreement on the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. The country has a week to detail its chemical arsenal and has until the middle of 2014 to destroy its stockpile. The State Department has published a framework for the plan.

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have reached a deal that calls for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. The plan, which Kerry announced in a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Saturday, gives Syria a week to detail its chemical arsenal.

"The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments," Kerry said. "And as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance, or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime."

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and one of Congress' leading skeptics of U.S. military strategy, including possible strikes on Syria. On Tuesday, he offered a detailed response to President Obama's speech about the Syrian crisis. Paul joins Michel Martin of Tell Me More to talk about his opposition to military action, and what the U.S. should do.

Obama's Speech On Syria May Fail To Sway Doubters

Sep 11, 2013

By scheduling his Syria address on Tuesday night, President Obama had initially intended to shape the course of events. Instead, events had already overtaken his speech.

He had planned to rally public support for military action against Syria, in hopes of winning over a reluctant Congress. As things turned out, he said Congress should postpone its voting — once expected to begin as early as Wednesday — to see whether a diplomatic deal could be worked out.

But Obama said he's keeping the military on alert, in case talks fall through.

President Obama is set to address the nation Tuesday evening about the ongoing conflict in Syria, and his efforts to get Congress to authorize a U.S. military strike following the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons.

WKU Public Radio will air NPR's live coverage of the President's speech, starting at 8 p.m central/ 9 eastern time.

You can also access our coverage through our online webstreaming, by clicking on the "Listen Live" button at the top of the page.

In other Syria-related news Tuesday:

NPR: Breakthrough? Syria Hints it Might Give Up Chemical Weapons

WKU Public Radio: Mitch McConnell to Vote "No" on U.S. Strike Against Syria

NY Times: U.S. and Allies to Work Through U.N. Path on Syria Chemical Weapons

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday morning, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell announced he will not support the President's call for a U.S. military strike on Syria.

The Louisville Republican said President Obama has not put forth a "credible strategy" regarding Syria. McConnell added that he doesn't think a "limited strike would resolve the civil war in Syria or remove Assad from power."

The Senate Minority Leader said while the chemical weapons attacks in Syria were horrible they did not pose a direct security threat to the U.S. or its allies.

Up until Tuesday, the leading Senate Republican had not committed to a position on the President's call for force against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. His fellow Kentucky Republican, Rand Paul of Bowling Green, has been an outspoken opponent of U.S. intervention.

McConnell expressed concern during his Senate floor speech about the possible unintended consequence  of chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists should the U.S. conduct the type of limited surgical military strike being proposed.

Brent Rosenberg was an early and enthusiastic Barack Obama supporter at a place and time when it mattered most: Iowa 2008, in the run-up to the first-in-the-nation presidential-nominating contest.

"I worked hard during the caucuses," said Rosenberg, a Des Moines lawyer and lifelong Democrat. "I led all my friends and relatives to him."

So it's with evident pain that he now speaks about the president, on the eve of Obama's speech on military action against Syria, with disappointment, if not regret.

Kentucky's 2nd District Congressman, Brett Guthrie, has announced he will oppose the President's call for a U.S. military strike in Syria.

Here's what the Bowling Green Republican said in a news release about how he came to his decision:

"I appreciate Administration officials briefing the House on this very important situation. However, none of the information shared with me today has convinced me that military action is necessary or appropriate to further our national security interests in Syria and the surrounding region.

“There is no doubt that the Middle East is ripe with conflict and that the chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people on August 21 was horrific. But I do not believe that a bombing campaign against the Assad regime would be appropriate, and may even further enflame regional tensions. As the last remaining superpower, the United States should act as a role model for these troubled nations and look for further diplomatic solutions.

GOP Senator Alexander Opposes U.S. Strike on Syria

Sep 9, 2013

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says he will oppose a measure authorizing U.S. military force against Syria.

The Tennessee lawmaker said on Monday that a strike carries too much risk and could set off a series of events leading to greater U.S. involvement in another long-term Mideast war. He warned about the uncertainty in agreeing to President Barack Obama's request for military intervention after last month's deadly chemical weapons attack.

Alexander was announcing his position at a speech in Nashville. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of his remarks.

The senator has participated by telephone in briefings with senior administration officials and spoke this past weekend with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Alexander's Tennessee colleague, Sen. Bob Corker, collaborated with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in writing the resolution authorizing U.S. force.

WKU PBS is airing Charlie Rose’s interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about the chemical weapons attacks inside Syria, and the possibility of U.S. military intervention.

You can see that interview tonight, starting at 10 pm central time, on WKU PBS.

You can also read WKU Public Radio's recent coverage from our region regarding the conflict in Syria, including:

Lisa Autry's interview with WKU's Huda Melky, a Syrian native who has family still living there.

An interview by Kevin Willis with Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who talked about his opposition to American military involvement in Syria.

Senator Mitch McConnell's recent comments to the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club about not having made a decision on whether or not he'll support a U.S. military strike.

WKU Political Science Prof. Scott Lasley's comments to WKU Public Radio about how the Syria issue has different implications for Kentucky's two U.S. Senators.

A look at where each member of Kentucky's Congressional delegation stands, as of this past weekend, about a possible U.S. strike in Syria.

On Monday, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander announced he would vote against the U.S striking Syria.

Senator Rand Paul says a surgical military strike by the U.S. against Syria wouldn’t impact the outcome of the civil war being fought in that country.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, the Bowling Green Republican said he’s horrified by the images of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Senator Paul said those responsible for the attack “deserve death.”

Still, Paul says he’s worried that the kinds of missile strikes being proposed wouldn’t directly impact Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and could even further destabilize the country and increase the chances that chemical weapons end up in the hands of opposition fighters.

In a speech to the nation Tuesday, President Obama will make his case for a U.S. military strike on Syria.  Regardless of what the president says, some members of Kentucky’s federal delegation already have their minds made up. 

Republican Congressman Thomas Massie says he will vote against any resolution authorizing military force against Syria for its government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.  For one thing, Massie says he’s uncomfortable with the language in the president’s proposal.

"It's not limited geographically, it's not limited by type of engagement, and it's not limited by who we can engage, not just the Syrians," contends Massie.

Massie contends the civil war in Syria is not a matter of U.S. national security.  Massie is joined by Congressman Ed Whitfield as solid “no” votes.  U.S. Representatives Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers, and Andy Barr, all GOP members, are still contemplating.

Voting in favor of war or military strikes has proved to have long-lasting political consequences for politicians angling for the highest office in the land.

Just ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose 2002 vote for the Iraq War resolution as a U.S. senator contributed to her failure to secure the Democratic presidential nomination six years later.

Lisa Autry

For one Warren County woman, the conflict in Syrian hits close to home. 

Huda Melky grew up in Syria and several members of her family are still there. She spoke to WKU Public Radio in her office where she serves as WKU's Equal Opportunity Director. 

In this interview, she talks about the long-running civil war, the Washington debate over military action, and fears for her family's safety.