Rick Santorum now opposes a strike on Syria

Chris Moody
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa Saturday Aug. 10, 2013. Republican presidential hopefuls are hoping to impress conservative voters at the conference organized by an influential Christian group. The daylong event will be one of many candidate cattle calls in the grueling run-up to the 2016 presidential election. None of the potential contenders appearing Saturday has declared candidacy. Conservative voters could be key to a 2016 victory in Iowa's caucuses, the nation's first presidential nominating event. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has long supported a U.S. strike on Syria, now opposes President Barack Obama’s call for an attack, he said in a statement Thursday.

“In light of yesterday's approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee authorizing U.S. military force in Syria, I wanted you to know that I strongly oppose such action,” Santorum said. “When these atrocities in Syria came to light last year, I advocated for military intervention to take out the Assad regime, a strong supporter of Iran. Had President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acted then in support of pro-democracy forces, we could have removed Assad and helped usher in stability for that country. But we have a very different situation today. After nearly two years, 100,000 people killed, a rebel force comprised of al Qaeda and a Syrian regime in a much a stronger position, a military strike would no longer be in our national security interest.”

In his statement, which was sent to the e-mail list of supporters for his conservative advocacy group Patriot Voices, Santorum asked readers to contact lawmakers to urge them to vote against the authorization resolution when it comes up for votes in the House and Senate next week.

“There are no good outcomes here,” Santorum said. “An al Qaeda-run Syria is no better than an Assad-Iran-Hezbollah-run Syria. What is happening there is tragic, but it is not in the United States' best interest to intervene with a military strike.”

After he lost his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2007, Santorum worked as a foreign policy analyst with a focus on Iran at the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics & Public Policy Center, where he advocated for an active and hawkish U.S. foreign policy. He launched a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and lost to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Santorum has made no secret that he is considering a second run for the White House in 2016, and positioning himself against Obama’s call for military action on Syria puts him in line with other possible presidential hopefuls in his party.