military strikes

Obama Administration’s embarrassing foreign policy fumble

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Just days after an U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power claimed that the United States had “exhausted the alternatives” to a military strike against Syria, the Obama Administration is seriously considering a deal brokered by Russia that may prevent a war.

The details are still in the works, but the deal, which Bashar al-Assad’s regime has accepted, would require that the Syrian government to relinquish its supply of chemical weapons to international intermediaries. Syria also says that it will ratify the chemical weapons ban treaty.

The Obama Administration remains skeptical, though the President has called the proposed deal a “positive development,” and wants the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that would make the deal enforceable. Meanwhile, members of the United States Senate are working on a new resolution that would authorize force against Syria in the event that Assad’s government doesn’t turnover its chemical weapons arsenal.

Americans still oppose Syria intervention despite Obama’s push for war

Syria

In a last ditch effort to gain public support for military strikes against Syria, President Barack Obama will take his case for intervention directly to the American people in a televised address tomorrow evening.

While the White House insists that its confident that Congress will sign off on the strikes, the political reality is that there isn’t much support for involvement in another country’s internal conflict after more than a decade of war in the Middle East. Members of Congress have heard from constituents, many of whom have called or written their representatives to speak against the proposed military strikes.

Public opinion, which is driving the opposition to intervention in Syria, remains a high hurdle for President Obama to clear, according to three polls released on Monday.

CNN finds that Americans overwhelmingly believe that Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against its own people. Despite that, however, 59% said that they don’t want Congress to authorize force against Syria and 55% said that they would oppose intervention even if Congress does approve military strikes. Only 39% support President Obama’s push for war.

While the White House has reserved the option to attack without support from Congress, the CNN poll also found that 71% of Americans oppose military strikes against Syria without congressional approval.

Legislation introduced to repeal the War Powers Resolution

War Powers

The War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973, was meant to serve as a check on executive power and keep constitutional authority to declare war in the hands of Congress.

The law gave presidents the ability to engage in military action only when there is a formal declaration of war, authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States. But the law has instead been used by presidents to expand their power by engaging in hostilities against countries that don’t represent a threat to the United States.

Hoping to return that constitutionally delegated power to Congress, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) has introduced a measure that would repeal the War Power Resolution.

“The use of military force against a sovereign nation is an act of war. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution explicitly grants Congress the sole power to declare war,” said Garrett in a statement from his office. “Unfortunately, since its passage in 1973, the War Powers Resolution has been stripped of its original purpose and has instead served as a temporary, de facto authorization for the executive branch to use military force whenever it deems it necessary.

“Today, I am introducing a bill that would repeal the War Powers Resolution,” he added “Rather than permitting de facto military authorization, sometimes for up to 90 days, my legislation would return the power to go to war to its rightful place—the United States Congress.”

No, military intervention doesn’t deter violent regimes

Bashar Assad

Among the many justifications given by the Obama Administration for military action against Syria is that it would deter Bashar al-Assad or whoever in his government ordered the chemical weapons attack against civilians from doing so again.

But would intervention really deter Assad? We don’t know for sure. But according to a 2012 paper authored by Reed Wood, Jacob Kathman, and Stephen Gent; military intervention generally doesn’t prevent violent regimes from killing their own citizens; it actually leads to more death and destruction.

“Supporting a faction’s quest to vanquish its adversary may have the unintended consequence of inciting the adversary to more intense violence against the population,” concluded the three political scientists.

“Thus, third parties with interests in stability should bear in mind the potential for the costly consequences of countering murderous groups,” they continued. “Potential interveners should heed these conclusions when designing intervention strategies and tailor their interventions to include components specifically designed to protect civilians from reprisals.”

That means that a troop presence would be required on the ground, which the Obama Administration claims isn’t in the cards, though they haven’t hid their desire to see Assad removed from power.

The three political scientists included this chart to highlight their point. It shows the number of one-sided conflicts against rebels leads to an increase in civilian casualties.

Reid delays Senate vote on Syria

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced last night that he would delay a test vote authorizing the use of military force (AUMF) against Syria due to discussions taking place between the Obama Administration and other foreign governments:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it wouldn’t be beneficial to hold the vote while international discussions continue regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

Reid says it’s not important to, quote, “see how fast we can do this.” He adds, “We have to see how well we can do this.”
[…]
The Nevada Democrat had planned a full Senate vote Wednesday. It’s unclear when that might happen now.

Delay of the vote comes as opposition to military intervention in Syria has increased in the Senate as members from both sides of the aisle are beginning to listen to constituents back home. For example, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who previously backed military strikes against Syria, decided yesterday that he would vote against intervention after receiving calls and emails from Georgians opposed to another war.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) sent a letter to colleagues yesterday urging them to vote against the war against Syria.

Whip Count: Obama’s Syria war resolution headed for defeat

Editor’s note: Due to mounting opposition to military intervention, we’ve added the Senate numbers at the bottom of the page.

As it stands today, President Barack Obama’s push for military strikes against the Syrian government would lose — and it would lose in a very big way.

Looking at the various media outlets and blogs tracking the vote, most show a majority of the House of Representatives rejecting authorization of force against the Middle Eastern country. You can click on the links to see party breakdowns and more information.

Pelosi is unsure that House Democrats will back Syria intervention

In an interview with Time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she doesn’t know if a majority of House Democrats will support President Barack Obama’s rush to war with Syria.

“I don’t know. I think it would be important to get a majority in the Congress,” said Pelosi in response to a question about support in the Democratic caucus for military strikes against Syria. “But I don’t know if it’s important how you would break it down. These issues are not really partisan.”

Typical Pelosi — always trying to play down an issue that could hurt public perception of President Obama. She also told Time that she doesn’t believe that the White House had to come to Congress for authorization of force in Syria, though she said, “I think that it is great that he asked for it.”

Pelosi knocked criticism that Syria could be President Obama’s Iraq. She said that the intelligence the Bush Administration presented to Congress didn’t prove that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat and repeated the administration’s claim that the strikes in Syria would be limited.

“I was a senior Democrat on the Intelligence committee, and was one who received all of the documents—by law, they must show us what the documentation is. The evidence did not support the threat,” she said. “The intelligence this time does support the facts: that the Bashar Assad regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack on [his] own people.”

“What the Bush administration was asking the country to do on the basis of a false premise was to go to war. This isn’t about going to war,” she added. “This is about a limited, tailored strike, of short duration, for a purpose, which is the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

Senate committee approves measure authorizing intervention in Syria

President Barack Obama’s push for military intervention in Syria cleared a hurdle yesterday afternoon when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution authorizing the use of force:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a 10-7 vote has approved a resolution authorizing military force against Syria.

The panel first voted to expand the use-of-force resolution by specifying the goal of U.S. military intervention in Syria should be to bolster the Free Syrian Army.

That amendment helped win the support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading Senate voice on national security matters. He and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) wrote the measure, which also states the aim of U.S. strikes should be to reduce the ability of Syrian President Bashar Assad to use chemical weapons.

McCain, who has been clamoring for military action in Syria, had been on the fence about the resolution, complaining that it wasn’t strong enough. The amendment that helped bring him to support the resolution hints that the United States intervention in the Middle Eastern country could be much broader than the Obama Administration is currently promising.

It is the policy of the United States to change the momentum on the battlefield in Syria so as to create favorable conditions for a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria,” states the McCain-Coons amendment (emphasis added).


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