The issue is pretty simple. The Congress of the United States has to determine whether or not to support U.S. strikes on Syria. It is called a declaration of war and it is the job of Congress to either approve or deny military action.
Today, the National Review Online is reporting that Congressional aides are saying that the House may not even vote on action in Syria if House leadership believes the vote will fail.
“Two new whip counts of House members by ABC News and the liberal Firedoglake web site show a majority of House members firmly or leaning against intervention. The Washington Post’s more conservative count stands at 204 “no” votes, only 13 short of the majority needed to kill the president’s request. “
Really? That is the position of the House leadership?
Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R) Ohio has come out in support of military action in Syria and Democratic leadership like Rep. Nancy Pelosi have thrown their support behind strikes against Syria as well. But much of Congress is not convinced and neither are the American people. Polls indicate that as many as 91% of Americans do not want the U.S. to go to war with Syria, despite claims by Secretary of State John Kerry that intervention is not only needed but morally the right thing to do.
Of course, the fallout of voting for strikes on Syria are anything but simple. Lawmakers are telling us that these would be limited military strikes. That U.S. forces would not be in harms way and most lawmakers are claiming there would not be “boots on the ground”.
The problem with that scenario however is that Congress merely assumes that strikes on Syria would consist of firing cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea. Of course, the assumption being sold to the American people is that Syria won’t be in a position to retaliate against the United States.
The issue we face today is different than any war the United States has faced in several generations. Consider for a moment that unlike when the U.S. helped in the overthrow of Gaddafi or went into Afghanistan or Iraq, we did not have other nations around the world directly opposing our action. Some nations indicated they weren’t happy about it but none threatened the U.S. over that action.
That is not the case with Syria. The Syrians have promised to retaliate against U.S. and Israeli interests and they are not alone. In addition, Iran is making clear it will strike U.S. interests as well. The Wall Street Journal is reporting
“The U.S. military has also readied Marines and other assets to aid evacuation of diplomatic compounds if needed, and the State Department began making preparations last week for potential retaliation against U.S. embassies and other interests in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Much of this positioning is in response to increased rhetoric from Irans Supreme Military Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is threatening coordinated terror attacks against the U.S. if the country launches strikes against Syria. The International Business Times UK is reporting that Khamenei says:
“In the case of Syria, the chemical attack is a pretext. The Americans try to play with words and pretend that they’ve become involved in this case for humanitarian aims. The Americans are making mistakes in Syria and they have felt the impact and will certainly suffer loss”
Russia too is making noise about not standing by while the U.S. launches these strikes. Russian President Valdimir Putin says that Russia will aid Syria and there is speculation that any Syrian assets destroyed by the U.S. will be replaced by Russia. All in all, this means the U.S. will not be able to strike Syria without being drawn into a larger war.
This may be the biggest reason that informed Americans are standing up and saying “NO” to war with Syria. The idea that the U.S. can conduct a “drive-by” attack on Syria is just not true.
The voice of the people in the United States is supposed to be represented by members of Congress. The House of Representatives is after all “the people’s house”. By not allowing Congress to vote on Syria simply because House leadership fears the outcome of that vote is not only cowardly but another example of how our “representative” form of government represents only special interests.