Senate Expresses Doubt on Syrian Intervention

Administration spent much of Tuesday trying to woo lawmakers who have expressed doubts about intervention

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Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Senator Bob Corker, left, and Senator Bob Menendez, center, listen during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on Sept. 3, 2013

Updated 9:40 p.m. E.T.: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote Wednesday on a draft proposal authorizing the use of force in Syria, per the Associated Press. The proposal blocks the use of American ground forces for combat operations and sets a 60-day deadline for military action that can be extended for 30 additional days.

 

President Barack Obama could hit a roadblock corralling a military response to the alleged chemical attacks in Syria from an unlikely source: the U.S. Senate, a body controlled by his own party.

Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Democrat of New Jersey, and the ranking Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee met with the President on Tuesday morning to seek common ground for congressional authorization, but many Republicans and even a few Democrats expressed skepticism when asked if they would approve a strike.

“I have great reluctance to use the might and power of the U.S. military nearly to go in and extract some kind of punishment on a short-term basis,” said Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. When asked if any amendment would change his mind, he responded, “Maybe.”

“I want to recognize that it’s a bit of a strange situation to come to Congress to authorize action that you can already take,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who also sits on the committee. Military action, Flake said, “would seem to me to be less effective the longer you wait.”

“That’s been the concern that I think everyone has raised — what is under danger to the United States of America?” asked Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia. “There’s an old saying, ‘We don’t have a dog in the fight.’ I think in this case if I come to West Virginia, they’re saying that we don’t have any friends in the fight either. I think that says everything in a nutshell.”

Nearly 60% of Americans oppose Obama’s efforts to launch missile strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime, according to an ABC–Washington Post poll released Tuesday. Last week, the British Parliament voted down a resolution to participate in a military strike and Russia torpedoed efforts in the U.N. On Monday, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said a military option was “out of the question” and on Tuesday, French President François Hollande said the country “will not act alone” if Congress votes against military intervention.

But Senate majority leader Harry Reid is confident that Democrats will have the votes to pass a resolution authorizing an attack even if opponents try to use a filibuster, the Wall Street Journal reported. Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said he believed there were “very significant national security interests here” that would validate a military response. “There’s a potential that both the Iranian regime and Hezbollah will take no action as a sign that we will allow not just chemical-weapons use, but might not act in circumstances that involve something even broader.”

“I think the last couple of days, as more people get more exposed to the intelligence, and more focused on national security interests, I think support will grow,” Casey added.

The Obama Administration organized a classified briefing on Tuesday in the basement of the Capitol to help guide lawmakers, including libertarian Republicans and dovish Democrats, towards an aye vote. Over a dozen House and Senate members attended the briefing led by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and others, according to a House staffer involved.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, proved before the briefing that he’d be a difficult vote to woo.

“I think it’s interesting in the sense that the more narrow the resolution the more you would narrow the President’s ability to execute war,” Paul said. “So interestingly, while I won’t probably vote for any resolution, if you actually narrow it, it’ll be a contradiction to those that believe the President does have the power to execute war once it’s started. I think our power is our power whether to initiate or not to initiate war.”

After the briefing, independent Senator Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats as a member of the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, said that his questions had not yet been answered. “Well I think the questions are: How strong is the intelligence case? No. 1. No. 2: What are the military options being considered? And No. 3: What are the ramifications of those options? Those are the questions I’m going to be asking all week.”

Despite the concerns of his colleagues, Corker remains optimistic. “I have a strong sense that we will be able to come to terms fairly quickly with what an authorization ought to say,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Our staffs had a very good mood last night based upon the conversations,” Corker said of his aides and those who work in Menendez’s office. “We are in agreement on what the authorization needs to address.” Corker said that the staffs worked Tuesday afternoon, and there have been reports that a resolution could come as early as Tuesday night.

And what exactly will be in their bill? “It has to be balanced. It has to ensure that the mission can be accomplished and at the same time not be so open-ended that people would perceive it to be an Iraq type of situation,” said Menendez. Escalation is “always something to be considered.”

35 comments
asliter
asliter

Refugees caught in the conflict between power struggles have the right to turn ghettos into religious settlements with the quality of their own initiative and their response to hardship.  It is a product of evolving to survive and no money or handouts can replace the individual will to survive, spiritually and physically.  There would be no help to do that in the first place.  I am speaking from experience only.  The same problems can happen in the USA.  

ZU
ZU

Unite States  should intervene in the Syrian affairs, for the rights of pepole and peace of the world. If Unite States does for the world, she will get more authority and benifit, but if she does only for the USA interest , she will lost more in the world. 

JohnDahodi
JohnDahodi

Really speaking the Syrian regime change fiasco has so far created more than 2 million refugees in neighboring countries and more than 4 million displaced citizen in Syria. The condition of the refugees are deplorable, live in almost beggar status in poor states like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey without any self esteem and respect. After a period, the new crop of these refugees will easily become the breeding ground for extremist like several Palestinian factions and Al-QAEDA too. Many of them are there for more than one year and the end of their sufferings is not near. Looks like, they will stay there for ever like 3 million Palestinians spread around and live like sub humans in ghetto settlements. They live on U.N. 's bread and selling their own flash with no morality and shame. If OBAMA and Hillary were aware of this scenario; why they have not made any arrangements to provide these unfortunate proper shelters, food, jobs and above all human values? Why they did not force Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oil kings to take care of these refugees in their countries and take care until they go back? Why Obama and the West is not opening their doors for these created refugees but throw few meatless bones and continue their wars and dream for regime change game everywhere they dream? Why U. N. Human rights Commission is not making these war mongers responsible for the sufferings of these human beings? Hope, Congress and Senate will hear the plights of these unfortunates and bear full responsibilities before they allow more fierce war and create millions more refugees. It is too bad rather than awarding WAR MONGER MEDAL, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has awarded  Nobel Peace Prize to this undeserving President. 

jmac
jmac

MSNBC is following the hearings.   CNN is following the hearings.  

Fox News is on radio silence.   The channel that couldn't wave that flag hard enough with jingoistic war drums to invade Iraq is silent on the continuing conflict in the Middle East. 

ggsax
ggsax

@TIME @TIMEPolitics America should find/create peace and not more war in Syria.Syrians have suffered enough.They need peace

lisamowmow
lisamowmow

@TIME @TIMEPolitics They are having a real deliberate discussion Its a good thing to carefully &thoroughly consider this issue.

deanjackson60
deanjackson60

Have you noticed that Washington, DC refuses to wage illegal wars against China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Burma, all nations that persecute their populations in one way or another. Only Muslim nations are invaded. Why would that be? Why is the United States funding the so-called "Arab Spring" movements, but not "Communist Spring" movements in China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Burma (Burma is also a Communist nation; in fact, the fake dissident Aung San Suu Kyi's father founded the Burmese Communist Party in 1939, becoming its first General Secretary, which is why Aung San Suu Kyi keeps her silence as Burmese Muslims are being slaughtered. Didn't know those facts, huh?)?

Notice too how the Republican Party House leadership (Boehner and Cantor) have come out to inexplicably (again) support Obama's strange "War on Islam"? This time on Syria. Why would that be? And why are both political parties supporting "rebels" who, when they take power, immediately start persecuting Christians?

Here's the answer for those of you who've been asleep...

Firstly, here's a quote oftentimes attributed to Nikita Kruschev:

“We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism, until they suddenly awake to find they have communism.”

Well, take a look at the following, and you'll be shocked (if Nikita Kruschev didn't utter the quote above, we know he and his comrades would have known it to be true)...

Google: ‘Photos: Antonov An-12BK-PPS Aircraft Pictures | Airliners net’

and

Google: ‘MiG-23UB Share this photo on forums’

Then for Russian Naval vessels (take a look at what's still appended to the bows)…

Google (enlarge picture): ‘Russia seeks sea power with decrepit fleet Base expansion likely an empty threat’

Those pictures were taken in 2009, 2011 and 2001, respectively, not before the "collapse" of the USSR. As you can see, the Soviet era nationality emblem of the Communist Party...the Red Star... is still present. That political symbol of the Soviet government would have been immediately removed in early 1992 if the "collapse" of the USSR were genuine. As the legal emblem of the USSR and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Red Star emblem can only be present if Communists are still in power in Russia and the other 14 republics that made up the USSR.

Now, for the main paper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…

Google: 'Krasnaya Zvezda'

“Krasnaya Zvezda” is Russian (no kidding!) for "Red Star", the official newspaper of Soviet and later Russian Ministry of Defense. The paper's official designation is, "Central Organ of the Russian Ministry of Defense." Note the four Soviet emblems next to the still existing Soviet era masthead, one of which pictures Lenin's head!

It is Moscow and allies who've been tasking Washington, DC's inexplicable foreign policy since before and after 9/11 (including the 9/11 operation itself). Why? To create enmity between Islam and the West, because while the USSR feigns its "collapse", it is forced to operate in a more or less "liberalized", and therefore weakened, fashion. Soon too the Chinese Communist government will follow the USSR and fake its collapse.

You see, before the USSR could implement its fraudulent collapse Western political parties had to be co-opted. And after the "collapse", Moscow & allies had to ensure enmity between Islam and the West, for fear that Muslim elements within the "former" USSR, with the support of the non-co-opted Western military establishments, would rise up and overthrow their Communist oppressors.

The fraudulent "collapse" of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn't have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan's favorite phrase, "Trust, but verify".

Now you know why the hated Communist Red Star is still placed on the bows of NEW Russian Naval vessels (and the wings of Russian military aircraft), and why the "electorates" of the 15 republics that made up the USSR continue to "elect" for President Soviet era Communist Party Quislings. There have been 52 such Presidential "elections" since the "collapse" of the USSR, resulting in 40 Soviet era Communist Party member Quislings being elected. That's 76.92%! If the "collapse" of the USSR were legitimate not one such Quisling would have been elected President. In fact, such persons would have been either arrested in the interests of national security or shunned by society. Remember, Communist Party members made up no more than 10% of the USSR, and it was they who for 74 years persecuted the remaining 90% of the population.

Now you also know why immediately after the “collapse” of the USSR the United States wasn’t given Russia's strategic nuclear weapons, including delivery vehicles, for safe keeping! Imagine that, the freed Russian people not ensuring their freedom against a Communist counter-coup with the assistance of Chinese PLA ground and air forces backing up Soviet Special Forces and Airborne Guards. If the “collapse” of the USSR had been real, then a freed Russia, for national security reasons, would have ensured that its nuclear weaponry was secured by United States military elements. That no such actions were taken proves that (1) both American political parties were co-opted by Moscow & Allies; and (2) the United States Armed Forces were not co-opted, otherwise elements of America’s armed forces would have been deployed to Russia in order to pretend to safeguard Russia’s nuclear weapons.

In addition, the KGB agent Quislings that controlled the Russian Orthodox Church before the “collapse” of the USSR are to this day still in control! They were never identified and thrown out of that institution after the “collapse” of the USSR! The same is true for the other 14 republics of the USSR, including East Bloc nations.

Regarding the “War on Terror”, Moscow and Beijing tasked the American operation to ensure that while the USSR was in a “liberalized” and therefore weakened state, such a war would (1) create enmity between Islam and the West; thereby (2) aborting any possibility for an alliance between Islam and the West against their mutual and true enemy…World Communism; and (3) create the image that the United States is a rogue state, invading/attacking nations with impunity, thereby setting the stage for a future "democratic" China replacing United States preeminence on the world stage.

For those unfamiliar with this subject, the "collapse" of the USSR in 1991 was a strategic ruse under the “Long-Range Policy" (LRP). What is the LRP, you ask? The LRP is the "new" strategy all Communist nations signed onto in 1960 to defeat the West with. The last major disinformation operation under the LRP was the "collapse" of the USSR in 1991. The next major disinformation operation under the LRP will be the fraudulent collapse of the Chinese Communist government. When that occurs, Taiwan will be stymied from not joining the mainland.

Pass this critical news on to others; few Americans know it outside of official Washington, DC circles.

anti-government
anti-government

It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe in the good will of the United States of America. We have invaded I don't know how many countries since World War II (far more than anyone else) and we always claim that we are doing it for "democracy" or "making the world safe" but there always seems to be an economic motive mixed in with the "higher" motives for our use of military force. It's not just that we are the world's leading purveyor of violence, our government is full of hypocrites who PREFER USING VIOLENCE BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO INCOMPETENT TO TRY PEACEFUL SOLUTIONS. 

roknsteve
roknsteve

There's about 5 groups besides Assad who could have used chemical weapons in Syria.  I vote for Big Doubt. 

don_peck
don_peck

@TIME @TIMEPolitics Someone somewhere is thinking, I'll pray more that someone else will see the light here, How do these people get elected

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

In the history of Christianity Syria occupies a special place. Syria, along with Palestine and Lebanon is for all Christians of the world of the Holy land. Until recently, Syria has been famous for its religious tolerance. For centuries between Christians and Muslims here has maintained an atmosphere of good-neighborliness. However,  with the beginning of the war and the arrival in the country of radical Islamism, the situation began to change.

groundzro
groundzro

@deanjackson60
"Have you noticed that Washington, DC refuses to wage illegal wars against China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Burma"

 Lets not forget countries that have actually attacked the US military since 1960. The USS liberty comes to mind and according to official reports that was just a bit of "miscommunication". That "incident" did absolutely nothing for North America but end the lives of people that live here and create misery for the survivors.

 How about we clean our own house and let that side of the planet take care of itself. I don't know about you but I don't go to the town down the road looking dogs "messing" on the lawns there. I take care of my own yard and IF it's ever perfect then I may start looking around.

JohnWhitehurst
JohnWhitehurst

@roknsteve That is nice to know.

Now this is nice to know also. It takes special trained people to mix those chemicals for the right levels of killing power. See street thugs, organizers  like Obamq could never mix them not his turff, but a few well trained scientst in Chemicals probably could. Provided they had th eright suits and such. Now where would the five get them?

groundzro
groundzro

@JohnWhitehurst @roknsteve  So.... Plans to buld a nuke are available from any search engine but not the correct mixture for sarin gas? Your kids must love having you as a parent.