Congress Mulls Over Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress, abruptly handed exactly the war powers many had demanded, grappled Saturday with whether to sign off on President Barack Obama’s plan to punish Syria for an alleged chemical weapons attack. Now with a stake in the nation’s global credibility, lawmakers were seeking more information about the possible consequences of striking a region without knowing what would happen next.

The debate over what action, if any, Congress might approve is in its infancy as lawmakers prepare for a public hearing Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the first contours began emerging within hours of Obama’s announcement.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he doesn’t believe Syria should go unpunished for the Aug. 21 attack near Damascus. “But we need to understand what the whole scope of consequences is,” he said by telephone. “What the president may perceive as limited … won’t stop there.”

Arguing for a strategy that seeks to end Syrian President Bashar Assad’s rule, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued a joint statement saying that any operation should be broader in scope than the “limited” scope Obama described.

“We cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the president’s stated goal of Assad’s removal from power, and bring an end to this conflict, which is a growing threat to our national security interests,” the senators said.

“Anything short of this would be an inadequate response to the crimes against humanity that Assad and his forces are committing. And it would send the wrong signal to America’s friends and allies, the Syrian opposition, the Assad regime, Iran, and the world – all of whom are watching closely what actions America will take,” they said.

Lawmakers of both parties had, for days, demanded that Obama seek congressional authorization under the War Powers Act. Until Saturday, the president showed no willingness to do so and the military strike appeared imminent. Then, from the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he would strike Syria in a limited way and without boots on the ground. But, he added, he would seek congressional approval first.

“All of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote,” Obama said. “And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment.”

With that, Obama dropped the question of Syria, the nation’s credibility and the balance of government power in the very laps of lawmakers who had complained about his go-it-alone-style — but were less clear about how they would want to deal with a horrific chemical attack that the administration said killed 1,429 people, including 426 children. Other estimates of the death toll were in the hundreds.

By evening Saturday, the White House sent Congress its draft of a resolution to authorize Obama to use military force. The draft does not lay out a specific timeline or course of military action but gives Obama approval to use the military as he determines “necessary and appropriate” to meet its objective of preventing further chemical attacks. It also affirms the administration’s view that, ultimately, only a negotiated political settlement can resolve the crisis in Syria.

An aide to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, confirmed that the speaker’s office had received the draft.

A hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plus classified and unclassified briefings for senators were being scheduled, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Saturday. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the hearing would take place Tuesday.

Both the Senate and the House planned a vote on the matter no later than the week of Sept. 9.

There’s little doubt that Obama as commander in chief could retaliate against Syrian targets without approval from the American people or their representatives in Congress. He did it two years ago in Libya, but in that case, the U.S. led a NATO coalition.

Congress’ constitutional power to declare war was refined and expanded by the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires a president to notify Congress within 48 hours of initiating military action and bars U.S. armed forces for fighting for more than a maximum of 90 days without congressional approval. President Richard Nixon vetoed that bill, but Congress overrode the veto.

Even with that power, Congress hasn’t formally declared war since World War II.

Every subsequent conflict involving U.S. forces, including military conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq, the Caribbean island of Grenada, Kosovo and Libya were undeclared, even though in most cases Congress did vote approval short of a war declaration — sometimes after the fact. The Korean War was fought under the auspices of the United Nations, the one in Kosovo, by NATO.

With Syria, Israel’s safety was a key concern. Dealing a blow to Iranian-backed Syria could mean a retaliatory strike against a key ally staunchly backed by many lawmakers, and some said that any president would need the weight of Congress behind him in such a situation.

“The potential for escalation in this situation is so great that I think it’s essential that the president not be out there on his own,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Saturday in an interview.

But that’s a different question than whether to carry out such a strike. Like Cornyn, Thornberry said he wanted to know what the goals would be— and the consequences. In town halls held over the recess, he said, constituents asked him why what happened in Syria should matter to them.

“The president has to convince us,” Thornberry said.

What to do about Syria is a politically perilous question for lawmakers, and one that has scrambled loyalties. Still uncomfortably fresh is the memory of the Iraq war and the Bush administration’s justification — since disproven — that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Liberals who voted in October 2002 against giving Republican President George W. Bush the broad authority to invade Iraq over weapons of mass destruction are echoing Obama’s push for punitive strikes against Syria.

Some Republicans who in the past embraced Bush’s military doctrine of pre-emptive action — and repeatedly rejected Democratic attempts to end decade-plus conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — have rhetorically grabbed 1960s peace signs in warning against the implications of U.S. intervention in the Mideast conflict.

If Obama intended to make the debate less about his leadership and more about the policy, the move to seek authorization didn’t work on Rep. Peter King.

King, a New York Republican and a member of the House’s intelligence committee, suggested that the president was undermining the authorities of future presidents and seeking a political shield for himself by going through Congress.

“The president doesn’t need 535 members of Congress to enforce his own red line,” King said.

—oo—

A few things bother me.  First, this isn’t about America’s credibility, it’s about Zero’s credibility.  Nothing more.  Zero shot his foot off when he “declared a line in the sand” if chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people.

The Russians have been claiming that the rebels have used them, not the Assad regime.  It would be advantageous to the rebels, and to those who support the over-through of Assad, if a false flag operation were used to bring in the military might of the USA and the West.

The facts are not clear who is responsible for the chemical attacks that have left 1400 dead.  The Brits, and the Germans have said “no” to their participation.  Others will likely follow and opt out. 

The UN team sent in to confirm the use of chemical weapons was not on a mission to determine “who did it” but only if chemicals were in fact used.  Nothing more.

The AP in their lefty bias willfully ignores that a multitude of truck convoys left Iraq to Syria in the run-up to the second Gulf war.  The Iraqis sure as hell weren’t transporting Twinkies.

The AP also willfully ignores that Bush 41 and Bush 43 asked for and received BOTH Congressional approval and UN approval prior to launching any military action against Iraq despite that the Bush’s didn’t need approval since Iraq had violated scores of UN resolutions in the “No Fly” areas.  

Rep. King should keep his piehole shut and do some reading.  There’s a little pesky document called the Constitution and also The War Powers Act.

Zero, with the forever big mouth, claimed last week that “he might go it alone”.  Now that public sentiment, and the lack of allies, he passes the buck to Congress knowing full well that he will be turned down in an effort to gain political cover.

Community organizing doesn’t work on a world stage.

Lastly, why is it that Russian president Putin seems to have more credibility than our current White House occupier?  

~ Hardnox

 

About Hardnox

Constitutional Conservative that Lefties love to hate.
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17 Responses to Congress Mulls Over Syria

  1. Clyde says:

    Good post, Nox. When I first read about the chemicals being used on Syrians, my mind went back to the pictures of the convoys going across the western Iraqi desert, bound for Syria. Not a one of them was hauling common goods. I’ve maintained the Useless Nations KNEW those came from Saddam Hussein, but did NOTHING to intercept the flow. And, just because it was Bush, so did dither the Congress, allowing this shit to get out of Iraq. THAT is why these weapons were not “found”. My take ? Let the Syrians slug it out, and let Allah handle it. Muslims killing muslims? Works for me. All this is designed to do is draw Obama into a pissing contest he has ZERO ability to win.

    • Hardnox says:

      Thanks Clyde. Let’s not forget that Libya had stockpiles of that stuff too.

      Trace residues were found in Iraq but no large stores. The problem with that stuff is that you can bury it and there is no signature. You could be standing over it and not know. Despite that, the left was quick to vilify Bush over the pretense for war despite that EVERY intel gathering agency knew they had it and the FACT that the Germans built the plants to make it.

      • There were a couple of stockpiles found in Iraq, but they were all old chemical artillery shells, most likely from the 1991 war. Their effectiveness in 2003 was questionable.
        You are 100% correct that this has nothing to do with American credibility, and is all about Dear Leader’s credibility. He has never had any, and has not shown the world that there is any reason to respect him, either. Any world leader who has paid attention has seen that Obama lies to the American people more often than he tells the truth, so they know his word to them is also meaningless.

        • Hardnox says:

          Thanks for weighing in. Zero has zero credibility on the world stage. He will look like a empty suit in St. Petersburg, Russia in the upcoming G20 summit. Ol’ Vlad will certainly go out of his way to show him off.

  2. myfoxmystere says:

    I just saw John Kerry go off on a political tirade on Fox News Sunday, kissing 0bama’s carcass over his flip flopping to ask for Congressional approval. My my! The embarassment continues.

  3. We have as much business being in Syria as a bull has with a milk bag.

  4. Mrs AL says:

    And what is going to happen HERE if this hits the fan in Syria? And what is Israel going to have to do to survive? Will be help them? What about Turkey?

    If you haven’t bought it cheap and stacked it deep, well I hope everyone has friends who have. It could get really ugly!

    • Mrs AL says:

      Should have been will WE help them?

    • Hardnox says:

      Mrs AL, the shitstorm here could well start. There are about 100,000 OTMs (other than Mexican) that have infiltrated our Southern border. My guess is that they are awaiting marching orders.

      Israel is on full alert. Ever heard of their Sampson option?

      • Mrs AL says:

        Does anyone on capital hillside even talk about that, Hardnox? I doubt it. Known for years that the open borders has brought in very nasty humanoids. Good grief.

        And yes to Sampson Option. Unfortunately, the Resident is acting like Delilah.

        • Hardnox says:

          No they don’t but there’s no doubt they know. My buddy at ICE told me about it. He also said there are enough discarded prayer rugs in the desert to open a carpet bazaar.

  5. Kathy says:

    Zero and Kerry are both in over their heads and this can only turn out badly for us. All of this has drug out too long for his words or actions to have any weight, and none of the powers involved are afraid of him, in fact, I’d say they’re ready to blame him/us for whatever happens after our involvement.

    Yes, I think we will get involved, because Congress is full of ‘yes men’, as they’ve proven over the past five plus years.

    Good post and comments, Hardnox.

    • Hardnox says:

      Thanks.

      This certainly could turn out real bad for everyone involved. I think zero is figuring out that going alone is bad politically thus his sudden need to ask for Congressional approval. I doubt they’ll give it to him since no one knows who the enemy is or what is to be gained by bombing Syria.

    • Garnet92 says:

      Couldn’t agree more Kathy. Obozo just keeps sending up trial balloons of what his actions MIGHT be so he can see which way the winds are blowing. He hasn’t the balls to do what is RIGHT, he must first see which action will gain him the most accolades and presents the least possible negative blame before he will take action. He’ll dance around until someone else does something and if it works, he’ll take credit and if it fails, he’ll be quick to blame. If congress approves, he can blame any bad results on them. I don’t think that he will do anything unilaterally – too much opportunity for bad results to fall on him.

  6. pepperhawk says:

    HN,

    Glad you mentioned the trucks crossing the Syrian border from Iraq carrying these chemical weapons IMHO. And the Russians helped load the trucks as seen by satellite. But, this was never reported.

    I hope to God we don’t go into Syria. We have no idea who really used those chemicals. Besides I guess a bunch of bullets killing a hundred thousand people makes it all right, but the gas not OK.

    How about the Congo where 2 million people were killed by machetes? We did NOTHING.

    • Hardnox says:

      Thanks Pepp. Good to see you visit.

      True that. I remember Rwanda. I’ll add the millions of Christians slaughtered in Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and other shitholes. Not a peep from the world community. Their hypocrisy is telling as is their selective outrage.