• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Boehner, Cantor, Pelosi All Support Obama On Syria Strikes

Boehner Obama Pelosi

After meeting with President Obama this morning, House Speaker John Boehner, along with other members of House Leadership, has said he supports the President request for authorization to attack Syria:

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner said on Tuesday that he would “support the president’s call to action” in Syria after meeting with President Obama, giving the president a crucial ally in the quest for votes in the House.

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, quickly joined Mr. Boehner to say he also backed Mr. Obama.

“Understanding that there are differing opinions on both sides of the aisle, it is up to President Obama to make the case to Congress and to the American people that this is the right course of action, and I hope he is successful in that endeavor,” Mr. Cantor said in a statement.

Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. summoned Mr. Boehner and other Republican and Democratic leaders to the White House as they intensified their push for Congressional approval of an attack on Syria. Conservative House Republicans have expressed deep reluctance about the president’s strategy, and winning Mr. Boehner’s approval could help the president make inroads with a group that has not supported him on most issues in the past.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said, “I believe the American people need to hear more about the intelligence.”

Ms. Pelosi said she did feel that Congressional authorization was a good thing, although not necessary, and that she was hopeful the American people “will be persuaded of” military action.

“President Obama did not write the red line,” she said. “History wrote the red line decades ago.”

But, she said, people in her district were not convinced that military action was necessary. And she said the administration needed to continue making its case.

“There’s work to be done,” she said. “Some won’t ever be comfortable with it.”

Other Democrats also voiced support.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said military action was “key and critical.” She added, “It’s important to the security of the Middle East and to the security of the world.”

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York, said, “Iran is watching us very carefully in Syria as a test of how we’ll respond when they have a nuclear weapon.” He added that the general consensus in the White House meeting was to support the president.

Harry Reid has previously indicated that he would be supporting the President’s request for authorization, while Mitch McConnell has yet to make any public statement on the matter. Essentially, though, today’s announcement means that pretty much the entireity of Congressional leadership is supportive of the the idea of giving the President authorization. The debate, most likely is going to be over the exact wording of whatever resolution Congress ends up debating. Even some Members of Congress who have said they support the President on this have said that “the devil is in the details,,” and they will need to see the exact language of the resolution before deciding how they will vote. Having been burned over the course of the past decade by broadly written authorizations for the use of force, it seems many members of Congress are unwilling to be fooled again.

In any case, it ought not come as a surprise that Congressional Leadership as well as the leadership of the Intelligence and other relevant committees on Capitol Hill. By the nature of their positions, they are more likely to support the Administration in things such as this. If there is going to be a revolt, it’s going to come from the rank and file in both Houses, especially in the House. We already know that John Boehner has had no small degree of difficulty keeping his caucus in line, and the libertarian undercurrent in a large segment of the House GOP Freshman and Sophomore classes could prove to be a problem for him. As for Pelosi, Democratic opposition to militarism in the past is fairly well known and it’s unclear how many members will be persuaded to vote for the resolution. In both cases, we also don’t know how hard the respective leaders will actually be in whipping voters for the resolution. In Boehner and Cantor’s cases, putting too much pressure on opponents of the  resolution is likely to increase resentment of both of them among the Tea Party crow. In the Senate, the question will be if Rand Paul and others decide to mount a filibuster attempt against a resolution when the time for a vote actually comes. To sustain that filibuster, they’d either need to hold the floor as long as necessary, or they’d need 40 votes on a cloture motion.

So, pay attention to that vote tracker I made note of earlier today.

Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Reid is confident he has the votes to pass the resolution. We shall see, I suppose.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    This ought to get mighty interesting. There’s a group of more traditional Republicans who just can’t bring themselves to oppose any kind of military action. Then you’ve got your “young gun”, teahidist Republicans who just can’t bring themselves to support anything Obama brings up. And neither group has the foggiest idea what we’re tying to do in Syria to begin with, so they can’t even discuss it without dropping immediately into dog-whistles and talking points.

    Warm up the popcorn popper, Mabel! This is gonna be fun!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m going to assume that Obama 1) articulated what US interests were at stake, and 2) demonstrated that these actions would be more than likely to actually improve things in Syria, and didn’t just cut some kind of deal to buy their support.

    However, I think I’ll wait until I hear those reasons before I agree.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 14

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Jeno’s just tweeted:

    “…Since Obama still refuses to tell us the whole truth about BENGHAZiiii!!!! why do GOP leaders trust Obama to be truthful about Syria?…”

    What’s that you say? It wasn’t Jenos? It was Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)? An actual Republican Congress-critter that tweeted that? Wow. They really are dumb.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 6

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: Eff off, you pointless moron. I don’t know why an Obama lickspittle like you wants to keep reminding everyone about Al Qaeda’s greatest victory against the US since the first 9/11, and that it happened on Obama’s watch, but you seem to think it scores some kind of rhetorical points…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 33

  5. TastyBits says:

    Republican philosophy is that the president is Executive and Commander in Chief, and the only constraint from Congress is through the budget. The Republicans reject the War Powers Act as unconstitutional. The House should be a slam-dunk. If Republicans do not like what President Obama does, they will defund it.

    Democratic philosophy is that the president must consult with and get approval from Congress, and the War Powers Act provides an additional legal basis. Many Democrats often vote as if they were Republicans to keep from being labeled as soft. I would expect many of them to vote to give President Obama what he wants. The Senate should be a slam-dunk. If Democrats vote to give the president these powers, they should stop whining about them.

    It will be interesting who is the biggest whore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Al Qaeda’s greatest victory?
    Seriously?
    More people died J-Walking yesterday.
    Apparently you stayed in your mother’s basement all day.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 7

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t know why an Obama lickspittle like you wants to keep reminding everyone about Al Qaeda’s greatest victory against the US since the first 9/11, and that it happened on Obama’s watch, but you seem to think it scores some kind of rhetorical points…

    Your hyperbole aside, the fact is that by invading Iraq, the Bush Administration ceded power in the region to (supposedly) America’s greatest nemesis in the world today – Iran.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4

  8. anjin-san says:

    @ al-Ameda

    Come on now, all it cost the US to turn Iraq in to a pro-Iran state was about 4K dead, a few trillion dollars. and all the hard won gains in credibility we needed so badly after the Viet Nam debacle. Well, that and the worldwide support we had in the wake of 9.11.

    That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    So far none of that support has extended as far as whipping support from their caucuses. I guess we’ll have to see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. anjin-san says:

    Jenos seems to have the whole “enraged chihuahua” thing going today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  11. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!

    That would make a great GOP bumper sticker.
    As part of the GOP voter outreach project they could distribute ‘targeted’ bumper stickers:
    “Holocaust? That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!”
    “Slavery? That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!”
    “Fukushima nuclear meltdown? That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!”
    “700,000 jobs lost in 2008 Financial Crash? That’s nothing compared to BENGHAZiiii!!!!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  12. @Dave Schuler:

    I could turn out to be wrong, but I’m not sure we’re going to see a lot of vote whipping. This could be one of those votes where the leadership lets the members vote as they best see fit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Indeed. By their position they should (I hope) understand better than any the potential quagmire Syria can be. Letting members vote the best way they see fit could provide Boehner et al the best position of all: they personally support military action, so as not to piss off military contractor donors as well as looking manly and tough, yet they get a way out of actually committing to what is probably a big mistake.

    If this is the case, I think will see a weird confluence of far left groups who oppose war, and far right tp’ers who oppose Obama, working together.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    Interestingly, the WashPo tracker has the House standing at:

    104 – against military action or lean no
    108 – for military action or undecided

    Now while nothing is certain until the votes are cast, its likely that more “undecideds” become “no’s,” than “lean no’s” become “yes’s.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Mikey says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I think will see a weird confluence of far left groups who oppose war, and far right tp’ers who oppose Obama, working together.

    No doubt in my mind at all about this–I don’t remember many things that have united people on all points of the political spectrum in opposition the way this issue has.

    Anecdotally: I have friends ranging from staunchly conservative to bleeding-heart liberal, and everywhere in between, and not one favors action against Syria. And these are people who would disagree on the color of the sky most of the time…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. anjin-san says:

    not to piss off military contractor donors

    And here we have the true reason for this splendid little adventure…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  17. Scott says:

    The appeal for action seems to me to be primarily based on the emotional response to the use of chemical weapons. There is the Hitler/Munich analogy (my opinion: totally bogus). The think of the dead children reason. The violation of international law (my understanding is that Syria was not a signatory). Finally, there is the ” If we don’t stop Syria, then Iran will be emboldened” reason. Not one reason on what is in it for the US. I guess I’m being pretty amoral here but I still think, given the choice between Assad and a radicalized Sunni government, I will stick with the devil we know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Rob in CT says:

    I think will see a weird confluence of far left groups who oppose war, and far right tp’ers who oppose Obama, working together.

    Yup. Who is the Republican who dubbed this “the Wingnut Coalition” ? Was it Amash? [edit: looked it up. Yup, that's Amash's self-referential term. I love it.]

    Anyway, if the Center has gone mad, all you’re left with are the fringes. You try to stop a war with the Congress you have, not the Congress you wish you had…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I think I begin to see Cliffy’s “grand strategy” here. I made a simple, on-topic comment, couched in reasonable terms, so he can’t let that stand and tries to derail the discussion with his typical mouth-breather idiocy.

    And, dammit, it actually worked a bit…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I could turn out to be wrong, but I’m not sure we’re going to see a lot of vote whipping. This could be one of those votes where the leadership lets the members vote as they best see fit.

    I agree with you completely. If public opinion remains decidedly against this, leadership is well-advised to let members go. I expect Pelosi and Boehner to say the right things with respect to appearances, but after that, I expect a lukewarm response from members.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. grumpy realist says:

    Doug, could you put up a post pointing to contact info for our congresscritters? Methinks it’s time for me to write a “let’s not go to war because the ramifications are very unknown” letter.

    Does anyone know if Congress treats email with less respect than snail mail? (My one book on citizen lobbying was written by Robert Heinlein long before the internet.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. grumpy realist says:

    I found a useful link where you can look up your congresscritters according to zipcode. Click on their names and you’ll get the snail mail addresses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Mike says:

    As long as they don’t have to vote for something that could possibly help the American people like a sensible budget (or any budget instead of another CR), they will work toward it. Really, Syria. WTF good will come from bombing Syria?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Tyrell says:

    Has Pelosi read the the president’s plan yet, or is she going to do that after she votes on it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Has Pelosi read the the president’s plan yet, or is she going to do that after she votes on it?

    She’ll probably do what Bush did with respect to WMDs and inspections – ignore the evidence altogether.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  26. JohnMcC says:

    @grumpy realist: Sadly, my friend, dead trees are no longer the best way to contact our representatives. The mail is interrupted for variable amounts of time (depending on traffic) while they are examined for anthrax and such. The next worst is fax; there are huge waves of faxes that swamp them from a few highly motivated ideologues. That leaves e-mail, which I’m told they do pay attention to if it seems original to you (not cut-and-pasted or copied) and telephone. I’m told that telephoning is the method most listened-to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Gavrilo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I think Cantor’s statement makes it clear that the Republican leadership has released members to vote their conscience. Notice how he said it was up to the President to make the case to Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. john personna says:

    FWIW, I think Boehner and Cantor lining up with the President is not about any “need” for them to back him. Like in the environment of the modern GOP there is any such need …

    No, it is an acknowledgement that saying “do nothing” has a cost.

    That might mean that others will also find “do a little” as the least bad option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnMcC: Thanks for the rankings on the communications. (Ah, yes, I forgot the scare of the white powder. One of my friends was bemused because the original anthrax scare had the result of delaying her Patent Attorney’s Certificate from the USPTO by about three months.)

    Just for my curiosity–aside from the belatedness and so-on, does anyone know if Congresscritters take physical mail letters more seriously than the other communications? Or are they considered to be the equivalent of the “strong disapproval” letters to the Times so beloved by the Victorians?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Raider says:

    The Democratic party and Republican party at this point in time are 2 heads which belong to the same beast. Both parties are bought off and taking part in the destruction of America.

    Follow the money, or rather the so called money.

    The unconstitutional and private Federal Reserve is the group calling the shots because they control the money, not the U.S. government. If the Federal Reserve wants America in Syria, then America will be in Syria. Don’t be fooled by all the other hubba-ballooo, hoopla distractions.

    You guys do know that the Federal Reserve is one of America’s greatest enemies don’t you?

    God loves you all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  31. Motopilot says:

    @grumpy realist: Thanks, Grumpy. Just wrote my congressman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. al-Ameda says:

    @Raider:

    The unconstitutional and private Federal Reserve is the group calling the shots because they control the money, not the U.S. government. If the Federal Reserve wants America in Syria, then America will be in Syria. Don’t be fooled by all the other hubba-ballooo, hoopla distractions.
    You guys do know that the Federal Reserve is one of America’s greatest enemies don’t you?
    God loves you all.

    So Ben Bernanke is calling the shots with respect to Syria?

    Also, God is ambivalent and somewhat detached. How do I know this? Empirical evidence: God was somewhat preoccupied when Hitler was annihilating 6M Jews, Stalin was murdering 30 to 50 million Russians, and Mao was liquidating million of Chinese people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    Yep. If they stop Obama they buy a piece of the next chemical attack, and the next one, and the next. . .

    If they back Obama they can pass it off as wanting politics to stop at the water’s edge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Raider: Anyone who thinks that the Federal Reserve is “one of the greatest enemies that the US has ever had” shouldn’t be allowed near anything sharper than a Nerfball.

    I bet you stock up on GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! and will swear that all the moon landings were faked, too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  35. G.A.Phillips says:

    Wow, Anjin! You look like Jimi Hendrix!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  36. C. Clavin says:

    “…If they back Obama they can pass it off as wanting politics to stop at the water’s edge…”

    Plus they get to continue yelling BENGHAZiiiiii!!!!! at every single foreign policy issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  37. C. Clavin says:

    Wow, GA! You look like a zombie with a leprous digit probing his puss-filled cranial cavity!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  38. anjin-san says:

    @ grumpy realist

    Don’t forget, we need to prepare because Obama is going to shut down parts of the power grid to punish patriots…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ G.A.Phillips

    Move over Rover…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  40. Jack says:

    Pop Quiz Hotshot! From April 2011 to Aug 21 2013, over 100,000 Syrians were killed in Syria’s CIVIL war. Was there a threat to US national security? No, as no one called for the US to go to war. On Aug 21 2013, ~1400 Syrians were killed with Sarin gas by other Syrians. All of a sudden there is a threat to US national security because Obama drew a “red line”? No.

    To those who would say yes, if Russia, China, India, Pakistan, or North Korea (you know, those nations that have some ability to retaliate against us instead of Israel) used chemical weapons against their own population would you still believe we should declare war on them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: And the next time the US Government uses its own population for testing like

    “the deliberate infection of people with deadly or debilitating diseases, exposure of people to biological and chemical weapons, human radiation experiments, injection of people with toxic and radioactive chemicals, surgical experiments, interrogation/torture experiments, tests involving mind-altering substances, and a wide variety of others”,–http://rense.com/general36/history.htm

    nations unfriendly to the US should be justified in declaring war and lobbing a few bombs here and there within US territory. And the US should just sit back and take its medicine because “if they stop [said nation unfriendly to the US] they buy a piece of the next chemical attack, and the next one, and the next. . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Tony W says:

    @Tyrell: Hey Tyrell, glad you found a few bucks laying around to keep your internet connection alive in September – hope you can keep it up all year!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  43. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    Jebus, Jack. I’m probably on the same side as you when it comes to this topic, but calm the frack down.

    1. You are pointing out that nations, the USA included, are more likely to attack a country that is weaker than them than one that could inflict retaliatory harm. This is not a revelation. This is defense and warmaking 101. No one advocating for or arguing against military action has ever argued otherwise.

    2. Yes. If the USA was in a civil war, and one side started using chemical weapons in a crowded civilian theater, I hope a few nations would at least bat about the idea of doing something.

    And just so we are clear, I am against intervention of this nature. I can, however appreciate the myriad reasons WHY we are having this national discussion without hysterics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    If you want an easy historical analogy, why not reference the unilateral decision by Great Britain to stop the slave trade? They were the superpower, they said, “We’re stopping the Atlantic slave trade,” and we and the rest of the world complied with varying degrees of resentment.

    So. Was that a bad thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I’m with you. The sheer hysteria of Tea Party crazies on one end and Leftie/Chomsky crazies on the other is enough to make me think I must be wrong to oppose involvement in Syria.

    Once again, people: this is not fwcking WW3. Take a deep breath. Jesus. We’re talking about some cruise missile strikes to blow up some military targets to dis-incentivize the use of heinous weapons against civilian populations. It’s not terribly dangerous, it’s not evil, it’s not the end of liberty. It’s a superpower smacking around a murderous thug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  46. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: How will lobbing a few cruise missiles that do nothing dis-incentivize anyone. Now every nation knows that the only retaliation will be a few cruise missiles. Did a few cruise missiles hitting Afghanistan during the Clinton administration dis-incentivize Al-Qaeda or embolden it? If it’s not worth regime change (which I am not for either) then it’s not worth doing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  47. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Stopping the slave trade involved stopping ships at sea “The Royal Navy, which then controlled the world’s seas, established the West Africa Squadron in 1808 to patrol the coast of West Africa, and between 1808 and 1860 they seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard.[10] The Royal Navy declared that ships transporting slaves were the same as pirates.”, and “Britain used its international strength to put pressure on other nations to end their own slave trade.” They did not bomb sovereign nations. You’re not even comparing apples and oranges, you’re comparing a tomato and the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    How will blowing stuff up dis-incentivize them? You’re kidding, right? Let’s say you’re my neighbor and you’re playing your stereo too loud. I warn you to turn it down or I will blow up your garage. You refuse so I blow up your garage. You still playing your stereo? Based on, oh, all of human history, I’m going to say no. Shockingly threats often work, and destruction often works even better.

    And quoting a section of Wikipedia does nothing to prove your case that this is apples and oranges. In fact, the Royal Navy threatened to attack and seize slavers. A threat. Followed up by actually seizing ships at the point of a cannon. Threat of violence, followed by actual violence in cases where the threat was insufficient. So, the analogy is actually spot on.

    Your confusion arises from the fact that you cannot bring yourself to suggest that slavery should go unhindered. But you are apparently able to convince yourself that gassing children in their beds should go unhindered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  49. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Since when did I say slavery should go unhindered? My confusion is your implication that seizing a ship at sea is the same as lobbing a few cruise missiles. You start your diatribe by talking about blowing up my garage! Are you f…ing serious? Who is the Liberal and who is the Conservative in this conversation? My point is that no one complained while 100,000 people died, why start now. There have been around 50 CIVIL wars since 1950 and we became involved in very few, none of which we in our “National Security interests”. If Syria shoots down a US intelligence plane over international waters or blows a hole in a ship patrolling the Med, then sure. But as long as they are only killing their own people, it’s none of our G_D business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: So declaring war is the same a a threat to blow up my garage….yes tomato and Brooklyn Bridge. Obama stuck his peter out and drew a “red line” and now he want’s the military to save his ass. Wasn’t it you who claimed that the only reason George W. Bush invaded Iraq was because Saddam Hussein threatened George H.W. Bush? I see the hypocrisy in you and it isn’t pretty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Since when did I say slavery should go unhindered? My confusion is your implication that seizing a ship at sea is the same as lobbing a few cruise missiles. You start your diatribe by talking about blowing up my garage! Are you f…ing serious? Who is the Liberal and who is the Right Wing Neocon in this conversation? My point is that no one complained while 100,000 people died, including children, why start now. There have been around 50 CIVIL wars since 1950 and we became involved in very few, none of which were in our “National Security interests”. If Syria shoots down a US intelligence plane over international waters or blows a hole in a ship patrolling the Med, then sure. But as long as they are only killing their own people, it’s none of our G_D business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. Tyrell says:

    The leaders of the US should not engage in military action in Syria. There are three main reasons for this.
    First, it is unclear what our goal is. We have heard it is to deter any further use of chemical weapons, or to persuade the Assad government not to initiate attacks on its people. There must be a clear goal of why we should be involved in their country’s affairs.
    Second, it has not been made clear who the different factions are and what are their purposes. We hear a lot about Assad, but not much about the demonstrators and other “players” in this. The government needs to be careful who they are helping.
    And last, there has been no plan of what will be done if there is retaliation on our forces resulting in damages and casualties. What will our response be then? Will there be “full retaliatory response” (Kennedy, 1962)? This has not been addressed.
    These are issues that need to be addressed.
    In summary, the President and Congressional leaders together need to have a succinct, clear policy and goals concerning Syria.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Wasn’t it you who claimed that the only reason George W. Bush invaded Iraq was because Saddam Hussein threatened George H.W. Bush? I see the hypocrisy in you and it isn’t pretty.

    No. I favored the Iraq invasion, a position I have since come to regret. And I never made that argument.

    My confusion is your implication that seizing a ship at sea is the same as lobbing a few cruise missiles.

    Actually, seizing a ship at sea quite often involved killing people. The ship owners didn’t appreciate being seized. Sometimes in order to escape punishment they would throw the slave overboard to lighten ship and get away. So, again, the analogy works pretty well as a point of departure to discuss the broader issue. Your confusion is that you don’t want to discuss principles, you want to chase your chosen line of attack without distraction.

    My point is that no one complained while 100,000 people died, including children, why start now.

    So, because X number of people died already we should be indifferent if 2X die next week? Really? Well, we were going to liberate Dachau, but hey, they’ve already killed a whole bunch of Jews, why stop them now?

    See, there are more complex issues involved, and I don’t think you like that very much. But I’m tired of people using this matter as an excuse to rant on as though this was all perfectly simple. It’s not.

    What it is is awful. What we’re watching here is evil. Killing children is evil. Using gas weapons to do it is evil. And what’s on the table here is the question of whether the one nation on earth that could conceivably end this evil should sit on its hands.

    Now, I happen to think we should sit on our hands in this case. But that doesn’t make any part of this easy or good or an excuse to congratulate ourselves however this comes out. This isn’t a slam dunk in either direction. It’s a vile, horrible mess and our choices are to try to help and risk making things worse, or to stand by and let the evil go on. Anyone who thinks that’s easy needs to think a little harder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  54. dazedandconfused says:

    @john personna:

    FWIW, I think Boehner and Cantor lining up with the President is not about any “need” for them to back him. Like in the environment of the modern GOP there is any such need …

    No, it is an acknowledgement that saying “do nothing” has a cost.

    That might mean that others will also find “do a little” as the least bad option.

    Voting no risks Assad applauding them while Netanyahu calls them stupid cowards. AIPAC will be making a list and checking it twice during primary’s on this one. Voting yes doesn’t close the door on blaming a bad outcome on Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Way too much energy expended for far too little upside Mike. You know better than that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @Davebo:

    Sometimes my inner pedant comes out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  57. mantis says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Now, I happen to think we should sit on our hands in this case. But that doesn’t make any part of this easy or good or an excuse to congratulate ourselves however this comes out. This isn’t a slam dunk in either direction. It’s a vile, horrible mess and our choices are to try to help and risk making things worse, or to stand by and let the evil go on.

    I’m in pretty much the same place. Sometimes there are no good options, and you’re stuck guessing which is the least bad option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  58. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Me too. I’ve just been conserving of late. Carry on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  59. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: First, the liberation of Dachau came well into a war that we entered not because Hitler was killing the Jews, Roosevelt knew that years before we entered the war. No, we entered the war because Japan attacked Pearl and because there was a possibility that Germany could outlast Britain. Second, Comparing the killing of Jews, all Jews from Germany, France, Poland, Russia, and Czechoslovakia to the killing of Syrians (not a type of Syrian, not a special race of Syrian, not a special tribe of Syrian, not a specific religion of Syrian) is again comparing a tomato to the Brooklyn bridge. A comparison I might add, you have become rather good at.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  60. Jack says:

    @Davebo: More energy than your peanut sized brain can muster…apparently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  61. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Okay, Davebo’s right. I don’t think you quite get abstract thinking. Carry on with your pre-determined agenda.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  62. Davebo says:

    @Jack:

    Phrenologist? Why am I not surprised?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  63. Jack says:

    @Davebo: Unless your peanut sized brain is in a skull shaped like the elephant man, Phrenologist doesn’t apply. Next?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  64. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: When the US forms an alliance (gulf war, Afghanistan, Kosovo) everyone hates us, when we only provide support (Libiya) everyone hates us, when we only give backing (Egypt) everyone hates us. When we go it alone how do you think that will turn out for the US?

    As a retired veteran, I’m tired of our military being used in every god forsaken country around the world to push a whatever foreign policy agenda the current holder of the executive office wants to push.

    Nobody is going to claim that 0bama even approaches a low-level of competence in his foreign affairs. This whole “red line” idea of his was complete nonsense. First .. the world knows that 0bama is weak. They know when he bloviates about a “red line” he will not have the courage to follow up. So when Assad uses chemical or biological weapons against his own people, he did so with the assumption that 0bama was full of hot air. Now they (talking heads) tell us, if 0bama now does NOT put some oomph behind his “red line” statement not only Assad, but the Mad Mullahs of Iran, Russia’s Putin and the rest of the world’s bad guys will know that 0bama is pretty much all bluster. Everyone ALREADY knows this. We have a man child for a president and he’s throwing a temper tantrum. The one and only reason he is taking this to Congress is because the UN shot him down.

    Yes, using chemical weapons on your own people is heinous, Yes the Assad regime, if it proven they committed the act, should be removed/tried in court. But at what cost. How many Americans are YOU willing to have die to bring it about. Let the Arab League handle this. The world community is against this, a majority of American are against this. We are war weary and broke. This is not the time or the place to act especially if it risks raising tensions with Russia/China.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  65. anjin-san says:

    A down vote for quoting Jimi Hendrix lyrics?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  66. Rob in CT says:

    I’m with you. The sheer hysteria of Tea Party crazies on one end and Leftie/Chomsky crazies on the other is enough to make me think I must be wrong to oppose involvement in Syria.

    This is the type of thinking that got you into trouble wrt Iraq, Michael.

    Jack is ranting about stuff, sure. He’s got a very low personal opinion of the President, which can rankle, particularly if you presume he was a supporter of the last one.

    However, this:

    I’m tired of our military being used in every god forsaken country around the world to push a whatever foreign policy agenda the current holder of the executive office wants to push.

    and this:

    We are war weary and broke. This is not the time or the place to act especially if it risks raising tensions with Russia/China.

    Are perfectly sensible things. Sure, there’s some nonsense in there about how everybody knows Obama’s a weakling and such, but what do you expect from a right winger? They’re told that every single day by the noise machine.

    Everybody believes a few things that ain’t so, whether they’re tea partiers or lefties. What matters is getting the key questions right.

    And Jack has the important part here right (as do you, if you can manage to avoid falling into the trap of finding your allies too icky).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  67. michael reynolds says:

    @Rob in CT:

    No, that’s not what got me to support Iraq. I supported Iraq because I believed (rightly) that the combat portion would be relatively easy (it was) and that we intended to forcibly remake Iraq Japan-1945 style. I was wrong about that last bit. Obviously. It had not occurred to me that Mr. Bush had made literally no plan for what to do with Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. rudderpedals says:

    @anjin-san: They know what they want but they just don’t know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  69. Rob in CT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Not to be harsh, Michael, but seriously? You thought there was going to be a Marshall Plan 2.0 for Iraq? Why would you have thought that? There was no prep for it (which would have been impossible to hide, as it would have been a huge undertaking), and Rummy was out there saying we didn’t need very many troops and it would be cheap. You believed something was going to happen despite there being zero evidence it was being prepped, and war supporters were going ’round claiming that Iraqis would be handing their Liberators flowers and immediately setting up a proper liberal democracy. Gah.

    Anyway, ok, so you didn’t support Iraq to distance your serious self from dirty hippies and Buchannanites. I shouldn’t have accused you of that, as you and I were posting in different corners of the ‘net back then and I actually had only a vague idea of why you had been pro-Iraq!, The Sequel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. michael reynolds says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Actually it’s funny (not funny hah hah) but I assumed the Bushies were lying about plans for Iraq post-conquest. You may recall that there were debates at the time about “remaking Iraq” with accusations that this was essentially a new take on imperialism. The Bushies were denying this publicly while sending back-channel messages that their larger ambition was a transformational occupation.

    So, I assumed they were just lying, because honest-to-God who would be stupid enough to conquer a country and have zero plan for what to do next? Well. . . We know the answer to that now, don’t we?

    I always said it was 51/49 for me. I didn’t care about so-called WMD because I didn’t believe Saddam had nukes, and I doubted he had biologicals, so I guessed that chemicals were folded into that WMD trinity because basically everyone has them so it would be an easy case to make. But it didn’t bother me that Saddam had gas weapons.

    The only possible way the war could make sense is if it was to be transformative. I was dubious about success, but had we succeeded, had we in fact gone 1945 on them – here’s your new constitution, here are the institutions we’re going to strengthen, and we’re not leaving until you get it right — it would have remade the ME.

    Instead we went in without even enough force to stop the looting of oil production facilities. An extraordinarily hard task was taken on without any planning or foresight. We took on a 9 out of 10 difficulty job that was resourced as if it was a 3 out of 10. It was insane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  71. Rob in CT says:

    I get your reasoning about the occupation/reconstruction, Michael, but there would have been no way to hide the buildup for a proper reconstruction effort (not that I’m actually sure there was any way for us to actually execute a “proper reconstruction effort” but nevermind that now).

    As for the rest, wow. Dreaming of remaking the world. Do you realize how arrogant that is?

    The US was forced into (partly, with others) remaking the world post-WWII. We didn’t dream up WWII as a “transformative” effort to make the world a shiny happy place. We went to war in self-defense, and in the end we found we had to pick up the pieces and try to reshape them as best we could. We got a number of things right, we got a little lucky here and there, and we got some things wrong too. The key point I’m trying to make is that war was not the product of intellectual masturbation. We were attacked, we responded, and we dealt with events as best we could.

    Dreaming up a “transformational” war of choice so that we could “remake” the middle east should be added to the dictionary as one of the definitions of hubris. That it wasn’t well executed is secondary!

    This is the core problem with US foreign policy. Lots of powerful people think that our wealth and military power mean we can control/shape events, because of WWII. We’re America! We can do anything! Nevermind that previous great powers struggled mightly trying to do similar things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  72. michael reynolds says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Actually, soon after we became involved in WW2 we insisted on turning it into a world transforming moment. It was deliberate policy. We could have defeated Germany and Japan and walked away. Instead FDR pushed hard for a bid to radically remake the world and to some extent he succeeded with the UN, NATO etc…. We could have partitioned Germany, bankrupted it and walked away, or treated it as the USSR treated their portion. We didn’t do that, we chose transformation entirely apart from the necessities of war.

    Arrogant? Of course it is. It’s an assertion of the belief that our way is superior. But it is superior. So it may be arrogant to say so, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Had we gone 1945 and successfully imposed a free market, union-friendly, woman-friendly democracy on Iraq – a goal that yes, we could have accomplished though it would have been hard – the ME would be a better place today.

    The world is a better place because we handed Japan a constitution, put a gun to their heads and said, “Do this.” The world is a better place because we moved quickly to re-integrate Germany as a transformed nation. The macro peace we’ve had since 1945 (68 years without a major war) is an astounding accomplishment brought about by American arrogance and American willingness to pay a price.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. michael reynolds says:

    @Rob in CT:

    This is the core problem with US foreign policy. Lots of powerful people think that our wealth and military power mean we can control/shape events, because of WWII. We’re America! We can do anything! Nevermind that previous great powers struggled mightly trying to do similar things.

    We can control events, we choose not to. We’ve established rules of the game that tie our hands. (Most of those rules I agree with, by the way.) The American people are not willing to apply the power we have. But of course we could. For example, we could have reacted to 911 by obliterating the Pashtun lands entirely. We chose a more humane path, which was more difficult to pull off.

    The historical fact is that ruthlessness often succeeds. I could spend the next hour listing off cities, states, nationalities, religions that simply no longer exist because they were dealt with very harshly by Mongols, Persians, Assyrians, you name it. We choose not to do that, and it goes without saying that I’m not suggesting we go Genghis. But it’s not foolish to believe it’s possible to use overwhelming force to effect certain outcomes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  74. Rob in CT says:

    We can control events, we choose not to

    Had we gone 1945 and successfully imposed a free market, union-friendly, woman-friendly democracy on Iraq – a goal that yes, we could have accomplished though it would have been hard – the ME would be a better place today.

    You are sadly deluded. We weren’t going to turn Iraq into a free market, union-friendly, woman-friendly democracy no matter how hard we tried (caveat: unless you simply killed or expelled nearly all of the present inhabitants and replaced them). Iraq might, someday, after generations of hard work by the locals, become something like that. Same (moreso, even) with Afghanistan. The examples of Germany – an advanced, fairly cohesive nation prior to WWII – and Japan – an advanced, very cohesive nation prior to WWII – really aren’t on point.

    Regarding restraint: when I mentioned previous empires struggling for control, I didn’t just mean the empires of antiquity (Romans, Chinese, Persian, etc). The Brits are the closest example, and they failed quite a bit. One might even argue some of their failures were due to refusing to go the full Genghis (Churchill would have agreed). But they weren’t the Mongols. They weren’t going to simply gun down as many Indians as it took to hold on to their Empire, so they finally let it go (not without bloodshed, of course).

    I think we’ve made our points. Anything further is going to get repetitve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. michael reynolds says:

    I think we’ve made our points. Anything further is going to get repetitve.

    Agreed. Virtual handshake followed by virtual beer. Oh wait, my beer has become quite real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0