Obama Faces Uphill Battle in Selling Congress on Syria War

Apart From Usual Hawks, Few on Board With Attacks

by Jason Ditz, September 02, 2013

The lobbying effort to convince Congress to authorize a planned war on Syria is heating up, and Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be holding closed-door meetings with senators to try to get them on board starting Tuesday.

Congressmen are overwhelmingly suggesting it’s going to be a “tough sell,” and while there’s a whole week for them to try to change minds, the early counts suggest they’re not even close, particularly in the House of Representatives, where overwhelming public opposition has a large bloc leaning no.

With experts saying the administration’s “evidence” is flimsy, there is little reason to think they can coax the “on the fence” voters onto the pro-war side with these meetings, despite the administration’s official claims that they are confident of winning.

There aren’t a lot of backers except for the usual hawks who vote for every war, and the efforts to hype Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) as having been “won over” is particularly silly, since McCain has been loudly demanding war against Syria for years.

Indeed, among those unquestioning hawks, there’s been no small amount of annoyance that President Obama decided to bring it to a vote at all, for fear that they’re not going to win. Kerry’s suggestion that the president had the “right” to attack Syria even if Congress told them not to may well be an effort to placate the hawks.

But it also risks alienating the rest of Congress quite a bit. Large numbers of Congressmen were demanding a say on this war, and for the administration to agree to give it to them but then imply it doesn’t matter is just one more slap in the face to the notion of oversight over the executive branch.

The wording of the resolution is also a subject of major debate, as while President Obama has claimed his plans were for a very limited series of strikes he requested open-ended authorization for broad military aggression against Syria.

Some are suggesting they might try to narrow the scope of the resolution as a compromise, but experts have been cautioning from the beginning that the idea of the US attacking Syria for a little bit and then stopping was extremely naive, and the president’s claims to have the power to attack whenever he wants without Congress suggests anything short of a firm rejection is going to be spun however the president wants. It’s going to be a long battle, but particularly in the House the threat of voter backlash at another new war is a powerful motivator.

Antiwar.com urges all readers to contact their Congressmen and urge them to vote against attacking Syria. Click here for contract information.

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