As a congressman, what decision would you make?
by Jesse J. Lewis, Sr.
There’s a resolution before the Senate to give the President of the United States the authority to bomb Syria in a limited and pinpointed way. We all know the story of Syria. According to almost everyone Syria has used chemical weapons to kill their own people consisting of women and children of all ages. The number is in the neighborhood of 2000, if not more.
Some several months ago the President said if chemical weapons were ever used, the red line would be crossed. Once the red line is crossed, we will take whatever action is necessary.
President Obama said that military action is warranted following a chemical attack that he asserts was ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad. The president says he has the authority to act on his own, but believes it is important to have a debate. He will seek the sanction of the House and Senate as a part of the decision-making process. He said he contacted congressional leadership and that they plan to hold a vote as soon as Congress comes back in September.
“In a world of many dangers this menace must be confronted,” Obama said, adding that the attack on civilians “risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on chemical weapons.”
Fifty percent of American citizens say, according to the Constitution, the president does not have to notify Congress to strike Syria. The other 50 percent say, according to the Constitution, the president must notify Congress. More than seven in 10 say such a strike would not achieve significant goals for the U.S. and a similar amount say it’s not in the national interest for the U.S. to get involved in Syria’s bloody two-year-long civil war.
In many instances the House and Senate will make a political decision. In other words, they will vote on whatever it takes for them to get reelected. Some Republicans will vote against a war with Syria because President Obama recommends it. If President Obama was against going to war, those same people will vote for it. The debate over Syria has caused intra-party divides among both parties. Hawkish Republicans and moderate Democrats say the U.S. should strike, while the libertarian wing of the GOP says involvement is not in the U.S.’s interest. Liberal Democrats say there are alternatives to military action that haven’t been exhausted. If Congress does authorize military action, the gap between Democrats and Republicans shrinks to just four points, with 51 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Republicans favoring military action. And if Congress rejects the resolution authorizing military action, large numbers in both parties oppose airstrikes.
President Obama declined to speculate whether he would go ahead with a military strike in Syria if Congress votes against authorizing it, saying he would try to convince Americans and lawmakers of the need to act against the government of President Bashar Assad.
“I put it before Congress because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States,” Obama said in a news conference in St. Petersburg.
Facing weak support for U.S. military action, President Obama said that a plan suggested by Russia to have Syria hand over its chemical arsenal to international control could avert American strikes “if it’s real? Russian President Vladimir Putin said the United States and its allies should “pledge to renounce the use of force” as world powers work to deal with the Syrian chemical weapons issue. “It is difficult to make any country – Syria or any other county in the world – to unilaterally disarm if there is military action against it under consideration.”
Now what decision would you make?