Obama Puts Ball In Congress’s Court Over Syria

In a surprising move over Labor Day weekend, the Obama administration decided to seek congressional approval before launching a punitive missile strike on Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people. The vote is scheduled to take place when Congress reconvenes on September 9th. In the meantime, Obama has already begun lobbying Congress to support military action against Bashar al-Assad’s regime by phoning numerous key players across both aisles, and by meeting with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham- two Republicans who aggressively support military action. Obama has also tapped his secretary of state John Kerry, and vice-president Joe Biden, to assist with the lobbying effort.

For now, it appears unclear how Congress will react. Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval comes in the wake of the United Kingdom parliament’s vote last week to avoid using military action against Syria. With the UK folding, the White House is now supported only by France. Weak support from the international community may weigh heavily upon Congress when it decides which course to take. An additional concern is that a United States missile strike may lead to an excessively prolonged presence in the region, similar to the war in Afghanistan.

Beyond the lack of an international backing, a key aspect that Congress must consider is how effective a military strike will actually be. The chemical attacks took place on August 21, and since then, the Syrian conflict has taken center stage across international media outlets. By now, the Syrian regime has had ample time to prepare for a military assault and bolster its defensive measures. At this point, it is beyond dispute that the United States has lost the element of surprise. Additionally, it is uncertain if a military attack will have any meaningful deterring effect upon Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Do you think the United States should interject itself in Syria’s civil war? Will a punitive strike be effective? If the United States does decide to act, do you think it will lead to prolonged military activity in the region?

 

Sources:

Reuters World Wrap

Financial Times

4 comments

  1. I think a post I read earlier on a friend’s face book page describes the U.S plan for Syria perfectly and it said “Syrians are killing Syrians so let’s kill Syrians to teach them not to kill Syrians”. The simple truth is a military attack on Syria by the United States will have little to no positive effects in the end. Syria’s military is well equipped and well prepared which increases the chances of this going from a quick in-and-out to a prolonged bloodbath. After the extensive fighting our military has done in Afghanistan and Iraq, another war is not what the soldiers nor the U.S population at large is looking for. Those past wars cost us billions and the thought of digging ourselves deeper in debt all for the small possibility that we solve this problem abroad that many of our citizens may not even be concerned about is highly unlikely to gain much support. It would aid both Syria and the U.S citizens and soldiers to think of a peaceable solution to the senseless violence that is occurring. Our popularity in the Middle East has already all but but vanished and another aggressive military strike will only gain us more enemies in an area where we are in dire need of good friends. However, if the Obama administration can handle this matter without the unnecessary spilling of blood there is the chance we can improve our image abroad a bit. In the end a military attack may just be the worst thing for our country and Syria as well.

  2. To me, this all sounds hypocritical. President Obama originally ran for President with part of his platform being that he would bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is clear that he has not done that, but what is even worse is that now he wants to inject MORE troops in Syria to “help” fight its civil war.

    It is understandable that he wants to save all people everywhere….so do I. But, this is simply not practical and to continue to stick our nose in other country’s wars and conflicts is a potential threat to our own national security. Further, with only France as our support, this threat becomes even more real. As history has told us, France has never been our true ally. What makes President Obama believe that this time they are on our side? France is simply not trustworthy and it would not be a surprise if it turned its back to the United States once the mission started.

    Lack of international support should be a clue to President Obama that it is about time we stop being the world’s police and saviors when we should be focusing on our own issues that have to be dealt with here on US soil.

  3. The situation in Syria is very difficult question because there are so many strings pulling in opposite directions. On one hand, with power comes responsibility, and America has a responsibility to defend those who can not defend themselves. On the other hand, there is no telling whether American interaction would make the situation better… and it could make it much worse. These, along with many other considerations, should factor into whether or not America takes military action.

    Today, the White House released a joint statement with Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, condemning the chemical attacks in Syria and calling for a strong international response. Yet we have another example of the Security Council paralyzing any action by the United Nations.

    I personally am undecided on whether we should interject ourselves in the Syrian conflict. However, one thing that I believe should not factor into America’s decision is whether there is UN support for action. I am not suggesting that America should ignore international opinion with this decision, merely that UN authorization should not be determinative. The UN was formed as a means of addressing international crises, but issues brought to the Security Council are more likely to result in a stalemate. Syria is an ally of Russia and this all-but ensures Russia will use its veto power. Although Putin claims he would be open to UN action against Syria, he wants evidence that would “prove beyond doubt” Syria’s actions. Saying the odds of Putin accepting any evidence the US brought to him are “slim to none” would be an understatement.

  4. It seems as if the potential crisis between the presidential War Powers and International Law has come to a close due to an – allegedly – recent agreement between the United States, Russia, and apparently Syria regarding the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. A diplomatic agreement would prevent the injection of American troops into an unstable region, while also curbing the Syrian’s government power to use chemical weapons on its own people.

    It seems, however, that even if this agreement were to take place – and the chemical weapons were destroyed – there would still be a grave injustice done to all of the victims of the chemical weapons. How does agreeing not to use the weapons again, and destroying the ability to use the weapons again, justify the atrocities committed? How is this supposed to deter other nations with the same capabilities as Syria, when it seems as if that the worst possible outcome for the perpetrators would be a slap on the wrist from more powerful nations?

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