Treaties that ban the use of chemical weapons in warfare date to the Geneva Protocols of 1925, but Tierney said these treaties cover the use of chemical weapons between warring parties and are “silent on a case when they are used internally.”
In any case, Tierney said the matter of enforcing the chemical weapons treaty should be handled by the U.N.
Then there is the fallout from any U.S. attack. Would it mean Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Lebanon, a staunch opponent of Israel, would be emboldened as it continues to back the Assad regime? Would Russia and Iran throw more support Assad’s way? If Assad’s regime were to fall because of military action, Tierney said, would a group unfriendly to the United States take over, or would there be anarchy?
One unintended consequence of the strike, he said, might be to put in jeopardy the cooperation of countries like Russia and Pakistan when it comes to withdrawing tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“Has anyone thought about that prospect?” Tierney said.
However, when it comes to constituent concerns, Tierney said that is not the only measure he uses when deciding how to vote.
When faced with the resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq in 2002, Tierney said calls to his office were mostly in favor of going to war, yet he voted against the measure. In hindsight, he said it was the correct thing to do.