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Obama to seek Congressional Approval for Military Action in Syria

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Speaking in the Rose Garden a short while ago, President Obama pushed for military action against Syria, but said that he will seek congressional authorization for such a strike. He is not calling Congress back from the holidays but will ask them to debate his proposed action after they return in 10 days.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Rep Peter King says President Obama is abdicating his responsibility:

    The Hill: Rep. Peter King: Obama ‘abdicating responsibility as commander in chief’

    Quoting King:

    “President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief and undermining the authority of future presidents,” said King, a former Homeland Security Committee chairman who has flirted with running for president in 2016.

    “The president does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria. If Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians deserves a military response, and I believe it does, and if the president is seeking congressional approval, then he should call Congress back into a special session at the earliest date,” King said.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    AT LAST!!! Maybe, finally some common sense from President Obama on this issue. It's several days overdue, but I'll take it.

    If he had his way, we would already be bombing Syria.

    It seems as though he very much wanted to go to war and backed down only because the vast majority of Americans and our allies and many members of Congress were against him. If that's what it takes, then that's good enough. I just hope that Congress will do the right thing when they come back to town, but Congress doing the right thing is a rare event lately. Lets hope that common sense prevails.

    As far as King is concerned, he's not completely incorrect. President Obama did everything wrong. He told the Syrians what action he wanted to take, how long it would last, what weapons we would use, what targets to expect to be hit. It gave the Syrians plenty of time to move (hide) things. We are not seeking to kill Assad, nor to hit the chemical stockpiles, nor affect the outcome of the war in Syria, but simply a "shot across the bow" and we want to "punish Assad" and what kind of military strategy is that?

    I only hope that President Obama chooses his words more carefully in the future (RED LINE) because right now Syria, Russia, Iran, and much of the rest of the world has lost respect for us, in fact they are laughing at us. When you are the most powerful nation in the world and then make threats and not carry them out, that is the worst way to maintain peace in the world.

    It is better to not say anything than to make empty threats.
  • Independent
    Birmingham, AL
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    President Obama & the US are in a terrible position here, but I think restraint and caution will serve us better . My sense is that the President is appropriately outraged at the atrocity we have witnessed, and willing to take punitive military action… but he is also appropriately convinced that the US public has no will for another engagement in this war. Handing the decision over to Congress is the right thing to do if for no other reason than to give time for the debate on this Pandora’s Box. Frankly, it makes more sense to take punitive actions when the outcomes of these actions can be better predicted, and controlled if necessary. Assad’s whereabouts will always be known, and if we can’t bring him to account without further endangering the US or the people of that region…. Then we should wait for a better moment to take action.
    I admit to being terribly conflicted about the humanitarian crisis under way in the region, but at the same time I recognize that there is a fundamental struggle within Islam underway… a huge religious/political struggle that will only be concluded by the people of Islam, not the US. It’s not easy for us to admit we are powerless to prevent war in those Muslim societies.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    PBrown --

    I agree with your assessment. This is certainly not an easy decision,and while many see this is just another civil war between multiple Islamist factions, we must not forget that one side is heavily dependent on Russia for survival. Without Russia's support, I believe the Assad regime would likely have fallen already. And according to Reuters,

    "The consequences of Syria’s war extend beyond its borders, as violence spills into other countries and threatens to destabilize the region. Clashes between Shia government supporters and fighters from Syria’s majority-Sunni population have prompted bomb attacks in Lebanon and Iraq. Foreign fighters have joined battles on both sides, including Hezbollah for the government and radical Sunnis for the opposition. Instability has attracted jihadist groups, which have seized territory for their own use."

    More than 100,000 people have died in this civil war so far, and millions have fled the country for refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. As those numbers continue to climb, is there not some point at which NATO, the Arab League, and the United Nations will say enough and intervene? Or will this escalate into a massacre, perhaps Rawanda style where over a half million people were killed in a genocidal mass slaughter while the west stood by and watched.

    This is much more than just "Obama's Red Line," although the media seems fixated on that point alone. The stakes are considerably higher. If President Obama wanted to play politics he would let the massacre continue unabated, hide behind a likely "no" vote from Congress, and then put all the blame on Russia and China. However, while many in our country from both the left and the right see this as a simple "just say no" and look away, the potential repercussions are much more complex and delicate. Besides the rising death toll, what about the millions of refugees that have fled the country? Will they become permanent refugee camps, much the same as the Palestinian refugee camps where millions of Palestinian refugees still reside decades later?

    I think President Obama is thinking long term and doesn't like what he sees. However, what actions could he take unilaterally that could possibly make a difference? A symbolic bombing of one of Assad's military installations would make little difference militarily.

    It would seem to me that much of the west and the Arab League (and some in Congress) are fine with putting any action to stop this civil war entirely on President Obama's shoulders while they sit back and watch...and criticize regardless of the action/outcome. The question I have is why aren't Russia and China paying a higher political price?
  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Further on Representative Peter King's "Obama is abdicating his responsibility" statement, it would seem that many in Congress are being put into an uncomfortable situation of having to make a vote. As Max Fisher of the Washington Post reports:

    "The decision about whether or not to launch limited, offshore strikes against Syria is really difficult and complicated with strong pros and cons. It’s risky, although so is inaction. And beyond just the debate on offshore strikes, most people agree there are no good options; whatever we do or don’t do, the killing is going to continue and it’s going to stay very bad."

    Congress, especially Boehner's House of Tea Party Republicans, is going to have to do something unheard of...put their own reputations on the line by voting yes or no on something that could have enormous consequences for them down the line. Remember the Iraq votes of various politicians. Many think Hillary Clinton's vote on the Iraq war cost her the 2008 primary election.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Right now the whole "bombing" is no longer the issue; it has solely become a prestige question right now,related to the Presidents "powers".
    The Washington circus is dancing around him; I'm amazed at most reactions; "the President has given up his powers and is therefore weak"
    Nuts; do we want a democracy or a dictatorship? I guess most Americans chose dictatorship, if I follow the news.
    Sorry to say he made a right decission to have Congress involved; it happens to be our democratic right to block something like wars.

    Also I absolutely do not understand what the goal is of any attack. Killing more innocent kids? This sure will make Kerry even more popular.
    Again huge numbers of refugees are leaving Syria because of this threat; there are just about more Syrians outside the country than still there.
    Obama just added a hundred thousand more of them because of his wanted action. So the UN can feed them in the desert (I guess the US does not feed them, but promised only bombs) Hallejuja; so we sit with our holy asses in church and pity Obama and Kerry that he did not get their way.

    I will "pray" to the big rock in my yard, that the Republicans block this whole thing. A little bit more Peace on Earth will be the result, hopefully after September 9th
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    Schmidt maybe you think the use of the term ..."Obama's Red Line"... is being overused by the media, but I am watching Secretary Kerry on ABC this Sunday morning and he just said that "Assad crossed the line" so the administration is still putting it out there.

    That would be the administration USING the media, by referring to the "Red Line". The administration seems to be doing their part to keep that term front and center and we can't really expect the media to stop saying it if the administration itself keeps saying it.

    I think it is good for President Obama to show restraint in taking military action, but he should use his words more carefully. He should not be making threats if he is not going to back them up. The world is watching, and judging us on our actions AND our words.

    I still hope that we do NOT use military force. It will not accomplish much, just make more enemies for the United States and get Israel bombed which will kill more in that country and they will bomb other countries killing even more in those countries.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    jamesn --

    Yes I agree that the Obama administration, particularly Secretary Kerry, keeps pushing the chemical WMDs as crossing a red line. Considering that over 100,000 Syrians have already been killed over the three years of the war and that the West has shown little inclination to get involved up to now, I expect that they thought the use of sarin gas would be the turning point for action. President Obama has judged it wrong. Let's face it...European nations, the United States and Canada and much of the rest of the world could care less if the death toll is 100,000 or 1 million or 10 million or how many new refugees are created every day. After all they're just Muslims fighting each other, except one side is heavily armed by Russia.

    But I will say this, refugee camps are the spawning grounds for terrorist action around the world, and if we want to promote more decades of terrorism, all we have to do is make the nearly 2 million Syria refugees live the rest of their lives in refugee camps...out of site...out of mind...until they become the next center of terrorist activity.

    For much of the West this is not a humanitarian crisis that affects them...at least they do not think so. Not today at least.

    In so far as bombing Israel, I doubt that Assad is willing to take on a war with Israel. That would make life very miserable for him.

    The one country that can call a halt to the massacres is Russia, and I don't see Putin doing anything but stir the pot. And not even Obama is willing to call him on the carpet for it...at least not publicly.

    I agree that bombing any of Assad's military installations is a futile gesture. But is "do nothing" really the only other solution? Is there any red line at all defined for the British, the Dutch, the Canadians, the American Congress, the Australians and more? Perhaps not. They didn't care in Rawanda so why would they care in Syria?
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    Schmidt you say that you ..."doubt that Assad is willing to take on a war with Israel"... maybe not directly. I can agree that the state of Syria may not attack Israel but Hezzbolla and any number of terror organizations are just itching to pull the trigger on Israel and perhaps some are Assad supported organizations.

    These rocket attacks on Israel come from different organizations but they all have one thing in common: their hatred for Israel. Their hatred for Israel defines them, it is their lifeblood, their reason for existence, the source of their power and funding. If Israel were to cease to exist, they would lose their reason for being.

    Much of what you say I agree with: Putin. He does not like us or Obama and is loving this.

    As far as ..."not even Obama is willing to call him on the carpet for it"... I don't think Obama CAN call him on the carpet. Putin would laugh in his face. Putin does not fear the US and more importantly he no longer respects the US and that will not change as long as Obama is in office. A cold war KGB officer -vs- a community organizer? Please!!!!!

    If we "do nothing" or we launch a military strike against a few military bases what will it matter? Everything that can be moved or hidden from Tomahawks has probably been moved or hidden already. We won't hit the chemical stockpiles because it might disperse them, and the launchers are mobile and one thing Tomahawks can not do is hit moving targets...runways, buildings, bridges, stationary targets...yes, but not mobile launchers that are on the move.

    It is true that Obama painted himself into this corner with his empty threat.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    jamesn --

    Yes President Obama has painted himself into a corner...but his threat was hardly empty. The mistake he made is not having a coalition of other countries to back him up...or maybe he did and they changed their minds under political pressure. Getting back to the point that I was making, is it appropriate to draw any "red line" as a warning? I would guess that you and Dutch and a few others would not approve of any red line...not ever. Not under any circumstances. Is that right? If not how/where would you draw the line?

    This civil war has been going on for three years with over 100,000 killed and nearly 2 million in refugee camps. It could drag on for several more years with people dying not only from bullets and bombs but also disease and starvation as the infrastructure collapses upon them. That's why the majority of people are fleeing.

    So I ask you: should the West and the Arab League wash their hands entirely of the conflict and just let it play out with Russia's help. Or should we intervene, and if so, how?
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt Wrote: jamesn --

    Yes President Obama has painted himself into a corner...but his threat was hardly empty. The mistake he made is not having a coalition of other countries to back him up...or maybe he did and they changed their minds under political pressure. Getting back to the point that I was making, is it appropriate to draw any "red line" as a warning? I would guess that you and Dutch and a few others would not approve of any red line...not ever. Not under any circumstances. Is that right? If not how/where would you draw the line?

    This civil war has been going on for three years with over 100,000 killed and nearly 2 million in refugee camps. It could drag on for several more years with people dying not only from bullets and bombs but also disease and starvation as the infrastructure collapses upon them. That's why the majority of people are fleeing.

    So I ask you: should the West and the Arab League wash their hands entirely of the conflict and just let it play out with Russia's help. Or should we intervene, and if so, how?
    Schmidt, the thing is quite simple; just ask yourself the question on how long we have been in Afghanistan, how many lives it has cost, let alone the money and what are the results. So we should learn from that as well as Vietnam, Iraq, the Bay of Pigs, Korea etc. However we have not learned anything at all.
    So related to Syria, are we the one's who should then have a solution for that, with our tainted history?

    No, The US should go back to just after WWII,when they dropped bread, food,medicine and doctors to the German extermination camps as well in Holland. That fact alone made the whole world like us at that time. Also it is much cheaper than bombs or tomohawks etc. People who feel good in their tummy's do not want war, but will love us, so then they create no 9/11's. Then once you get the population on your side then they will also get their own house in order without hating us.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Okay...I'll just make one more point here. When I first started my working career, my boss said if I wanted to criticize a course of action then I damn sure had to be ready with an well thought out alternative solution. Simply criticizing for the sake of criticizing will not get you any gold stars. That bit of wisdom has stuck with me my entire life.

    As I have watched members of the media and Congress criticize President Obama for his "inaction" on Syria for the past couple of years, I haven't seen them offer any ideas other than McCain's full scale military assault.

    Now that President Obama has put the problem on Congress's lap, they are squirming. I am sure they will say no to any kind of military action. As we all know, "do nothing" is their modus operandi. They can't even pass a farm bill for fear that someone will criticize them.

    When one looks at the Iran-Iraq War that lasted eight years and killed some half million soldiers and civilians, the world largely stood by as Iraq used nerve gas not only on the Iranians but also the Iraqi Kurds.

    As per Wikipedia: "The Americans and the British also either blocked or watered down UN resolutions that condemned Iraq for using chemical weapons against the Iranians and their own Kurdish citizens."

    "More than 30 countries provided support to Iraq, Iran, or both; most of the aid went to Iraq. Iran had a complex clandestine procurement network to obtain munitions and critical materials. Iraq had an even larger clandestine purchasing network, involving 10–12 allied countries, to maintain ambiguity over their arms purchases and to circumvent "official restrictions". Arab mercenaries and volunteers from Egypt and Jordan formed the Yarmouk Brigade and participated in the war alongside Iraqis."

    Henry Kissinger said at the time: "It's a pity they both can't lose."

    Nevertheless, the United States provided "technological aid, intelligence, the sale of dual-use and military equipment, and satellite intelligence" to Saddam Hussein during the war.

    The Syria situation is not exactly analogous with the Iraq-Iran War, except that it also is a proxy war with Saudi Arabia principally helping out the rebels and Iran and Russia aiding Assad.

    The problem with long drawn out wars and conflicts of this nature is that there are not only spill over effects into other countries, there are also longer lasting knock on effects that the rest of the world has to contend with years later. The refugee camps are just one of the outcomes that the world will have to contend with.

    Now I do not believe a limited air strike against Syria's military installations will do any good. What we need is a largely diplomatic effort that includes the Saudis, Qatar, Iran and Russia. And that will not happen without strong political pressure from multiple countries. Russia is the most difficult actor in this game.

    I also believe that "do nothing" is not a strategy but rather a cop out.

    PS - Dutch I wrote this before reading your post. I'll respond to that separately.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Dutch --

    Yes I agree...food and medicine...not bombs. In fact, President Obama announced in June that the USA was stepping up their humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by the war.

    NBC News, June 18, 2013: "The U.S. is to give more than $300 million in additional “life-saving humanitarian assistance” to Syrians caught up in the country’s civil war, Barack Obama has announced, taking the total amount given since the conflict began to nearly $815 million...The United States remains the single-largest contributor of humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people.”

    "More than $128 million of the money announced Monday will go toward helping people inside Syria, with the rest divided between refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt."

    As the humanitarian crisis grows the need for aid will continue to grow. The UN says it needs $ 5 billion for 2013 alone. What we and other countries have donated so far is NOT near enough. The huge numbers of refugees have resulted in growing unrest in the camps and are causing political problems within those countries. The situation is not sustainable.

    It would be nice if the Saudis, Qatar and other Arab countries stepped up to the plate with higher donations, but so far it is difficult to keep up with just the current numbers. Yes the United States could do even more...billions in aid instead of hundreds of millions. But our Congress will balk at those kind of numbers for sure, especially without an "end game" in sight as Boehner will likely demand.

    In this case, the aid is a band-aid on the bigger problem. Not enough band-aids will help out these refugees. We need to go to the source of the problem, but the US cannot pursue diplomacy alone. We need a coalition of the willing.

    So I suppose for now, the "do nothing" solution other than humanitarian aid is the short term path. However, it is NOT a long term solution for political stability in the region.
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    Schmidt the question of what to do about Syria is more complicated than we will ever solve on this DemocraticHub. I do not have the answer, neither do you, nor any of us on this thread.

    So far on this forum we have mostly discussed two options: 1) do nothing and 2) launch cruise missiles at a few military targets. Of these two options I would choose 1) do nothing. That will not solve the problem of course but it is preferable to 2) launch cruise missiles because that option will just make things worse. We bomb Syria and Israel will probably get bombed in return then in their own retaliation they would bomb even more countries. How does THAT help? It doesn't.

    The middle east is already on fire with unrest in several countries and us bombing Syria will not help, but will only spread the unrest.

    When you say that..."but this threat was hardly empty"... He may not have meant it as an empty threat when he said it, but it BECAME an empty threat because President Obama did not back it up. When he issued the threat he may have had intentions to back it up but the reality is that he DID NOT. His inaction is a signal to other countries that he doesn't mean what he says, his words are meaningless, he's all talk and no action. I'm not saying that is true, I'm saying that's what other countries percieve as true.

    When President Obama says something then fails to do what he says, it is the lack of action that makes it an empty threat.

    I do not know why he gave the unfortunate "RED LINE" speech, he never should have used those words. President Obama is maybe the best speaker we have ever had as president, and he has the best speechwriters, but that was a VERY unfortunate choice of words.

    You are correct that the refugee problem (a million children, 2 million total) will affect the region for a long time. No matter what else happens, the population of Syria has suffered irrepairable damage.

    We need to come up with option number 3)______.