Home National Politics Video: President Obama (Mostly) Nails It on Syria

Video: President Obama (Mostly) Nails It on Syria


Excellent speech by President Obama on Syria, although I still would have liked to hear more about how much damage we need to do to the Assad regime in order to make clear that there’s a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons. Other than that, though, this was perfect. There’s absolutely no question that killing 1,000+ civilians – men, women, and hundreds of children – with chemical weapons is a violation of every moral and legal standard the world has established since World Wars I and II. If we let a regime get away with this, we have basically sent a message to every other regime in the world that they can pretty much do whatever they want – gas their people, develop nuclear weapons and/or biological agents, whatever. This needs to be completely unacceptable, or as a species, our days are seriously numbered.

I also love how President Obama said he’s happy to have this debate, and welcomes a Congressional vote on it. Of course, U.S. presidents since World War II have used military force dozens (hundreds?) of times without any authorization by Congress, and it’s not even clear constitutionally where the power to do so lies exactly, but in an ideal world, it would be great if Congress – our elected representatives – could play a responsible, serious role in committing this nation to use of force.

Now, the question is, can the bat**** crazy teahadist-“led” House of Representatives do ANYTHING responsible? I’m highly skeptical. Can Congress even get its sorry a***es back to Washington, DC, as the British Parliament was clearly able to do? It’s not like they don’t have enough other stuff to work on, like the federal budget and the debt ceiling, even without the Syria situation. So where are they, other than working something like 9 (count’em, NINE!) days after Labor Day and before the budget deadline. Rough life, huh? Anyway, I wouldn’t count on a serious, sober, sensible debate on Syria, or on anything else for that matter, as long as we have the Teapublican lunatics elected in 2010 continuing to run the House “asylum.” But it will be interesting to see, nonetheless, and possibly beneficial to expose these people yet again for the irresponsible, Obama Derangement Syndrome-suffering fools that they are.

UPDATE: See Sen. Kaine’s statement in the comments section. Also, I’d note that Rep. Scott Rigell just tweeted, “I applaud & respect President Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization.” And Rep. Gerry Connolly tweeted, “I call on Speaker Boehner to convene the House to debate and vote on Syria by Wednesday of next week.”


    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement today in response to the President’s announcement that he will seek congressional authorization for military action in Syria:

    “I strongly support the President’s decision to seek congressional approval of military action in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons. Our nation is stronger in military matters when we act in a united fashion. The opportunity to fully debate this difficult situation will help educate the American public about the important issues at stake and ultimately provide a political consensus that our servicemembers must be able to rely on.”

    In July, Kaine announced efforts to reform the 1973 War Powers Resolution in a way that lays out a clear consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action. Recently, Kaine has called for the President to fully consult with Congress before initiating military action in Syria and advocated a debate and authorization of military action, before or shortly after any strike occurs.


    ~ On the President’s Decision to Seek Congressional Authorization on Syria ~

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement today in response to the President’s decision to seek congressional authorization for military action in Syria:

    “I commend the President for the decision to seek authorization from Congress. The decision about whether or not to use military force in response to the Syrian atrocities raises significant issues that should be considered and debated by Congress. This debate will help define how America views its role as a world power.

    “The tone that we use while having this discussion also is vitally important. These are issues that should not break down along typical partisan lines, and the debate will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that America’s elected leadership can come together to resolve serious issues. People across the country and indeed around the world will be watching closely as the world’s greatest democracy debates, and then decides, these important questions.”

  • NotJohnSMosby

    that Congress comes back a week early to debate this. They’ve only had 4 weeks off, and may not be properly refreshed after the long 7 months of doing nothing to bang this out.

  • ConsDemo

    I’m opposed to getting involved in Syria.  As Simon Jenkins of the British Newspaper the Guardian says, “it takes more courage to say there is nothing outsiders can do.”  

    Having said that, there are plenty of people opposing the President’s decision to bomb Syria out of political opportunism.  Politicians who want to attack Iran because it might get nuclear weapons have no business opposing an attack on Syria for actually having used chemical weapons.  The vote in Congress will end the ability of these clowns to try to have it both ways.  Israel firsters such as Ted Cruz need to come out of the closet and take a stand instead of just uttering tea-party pleasing platitudes.

  • Andy Schmookler

    You write, Lowell:

    Now, the question is, can the bat**** crazy teahadist-“led” House of Representatives do ANYTHING responsible? I’m highly skeptical.

    I’m not so skeptical. And that’s why I think the President’s move has, among its other virtues, the virtue of being smart politics.

    The Republicans, as I see it, will have no choice. What are they going to do, when they’re the party of the muscle-flexing hawks? Suddenly play the part of doves, and undercut all these years of trying to make the Democrats look like sissies?

    My bet, then, is that the Republicans will give the President the green light, and this process with Congress will inoculate the President against the usual Republican attacks.

    Without going to Congress, the Republicans would have tried to unman him if he did nothing, and would attack him for whatever are the shortcomings or unintended consequences for doing something.

    What will likely happen is that he’ll do something, with a green light from Congress; but it won’t decide the Syrian civil war, as it’s not intended to do; and the Republicans will have as their only means of attack that Obama is not going far enough.

    But the American people don’t want another Iraq or Afghanistan, so that attack from the super-hawk angle will work only with the crazies on the right who go along with every attack the Republicans can think up.

  • aznew

    I do not understand this at all.

    I am not saying that chemical weapons are acceptable, but I am at a loss to understand why, as a matter of policy, we accept hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by “conventional” means, but 1,000 deaths caused by chemical weapons somehow demands a military response from us?

    As a matter of foreign policy, this is incoherent.

    The only reason we are forced into acting now is because our credibility is at stake, and the only reason our credibility is at stake is because President Obama made a serious, and uncharacteristic, error when he identified the use of chemical weapons as a “red line” for us.

    And so, rather than developing a meaningful policy aimed at a real problem caused for U.S. interests in the Middle East by this war — namely, keeping chemical weapons and long-range missiles out of the hands of Hezbollah — we are about to interject ourselves into a conflict we have no business participating in in the first place in the most (and I hate this word, because it is overused by Conservatives, but in this case, it is actually apt) feckless way possible.

    Andy Schmookler might have the domestic politics of it for Obama right, but as a matter of defining and conducting an effective foreign policy, this is a pretty poor performance by the Obama administration, IMHO.

    I do hope Obama can pull a rabbit out of his hat on this, but even leaving aside the complexity on the ground of figuring out who is who in the Syrian civil war, it hard to conceive of a response on our part that is limited enough to gain support at home while serious enough to be a meaningful deterrent to Assad.