Obama tries to persuade skeptics on Syria

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham say vote against action 'would be catastrophic in its consequences'
Associated Press
Sep 2, 2013

President Barack Obama worked on Monday to persuade skeptical lawmakers to endorse a U.S. military intervention in civil war-wracked Syria, winning conditional support from two leading Senate foreign policy hawks even as he encountered resistance from members of his own party after two days of a determined push to sell the plan.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Obama still needs to make a strong case for attacking the regime of President Bashar Assad, but they toned down past criticism that the president's plan was too weak to change the course of the fighting in Syria in favor of the opposition.

"We have to make it clear that a vote against this would be catastrophic in its consequences," now and in future international crises, McCain told reporters outside the White House following an hour-long private meeting that he and Graham had with Obama.

But the outcome of any vote remained in doubt amid continued skepticism in a war-weary Congress. Several Democrats in a conference call with administration officials pushed back against military action, questioning both the intelligence about a chemical attack last month outside Damascus and the value of an intervention to United States interests, according to aides on the call. Others demanded narrower authorization than that requested by the administration.

"The White House has put forward a proposed bill authorizing the use of force that, as drafted, is far too broad and open ended, and could be used to justify everything from a limited cruise missile strike to a no fly zone and the introduction of American ground troops," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House intelligence committee.

In a post on his website, Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota reflected a view shared by others: "I want you to know that I am vehemently opposed to a military strike that would clearly be an act of war against Syria, especially under such tragic yet confusing circumstances as to who is responsible for the use of chemical weapons."

After changing course and deciding to seek congressional approval for military action, Obama is confronted with one of his most difficult foreign policy tests and faces a Congress divided over an unavoidably tough vote-of-conscience on overseas conflict rather than the more customary partisan fights over domestic policy.

"My impression is that a lot of people are up for grabs," McCain said.

Following months of rejecting direct intervention in Syria, Obama and his aides now want to strike at the Assad regime in response to a reported chemical attack that the Obama administration says was carried out by Assad's military. The administration says more than 1,400 people were killed, including more than 400 children.

Obama was trying to find a middle ground that would attract a majority in the House and the Senate — a difficult task complicated further because Obama is leaving for a three-day trip to Europe Tuesday night, visiting Stockholm, Sweden, and then attending an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The visit is all the more significant because Russia has sided with the Syrian regime. Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Monday the information the U.S. showed Moscow to prove the Syrian regime was behind the chemical attack was "absolutely unconvincing."

In a daring move, Russian President Vladimir Putin was considering sending a delegation of Russian lawmakers to the United States to discuss the situation in Syria with members of Congress, the Interfax news agency reported Monday.

The White House is engaging in what officials call a "flood-the-zone" persuasion strategy with Congress, arguing that failure to act against Assad would weaken any deterrence against the use of chemical weapons and could embolden not only Assad but also Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Obama has stressed that whatever action he takes, it will not result in placing American troops on the ground in Syria.

On Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify publicly before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Earlier Tuesday, other members of the administration's national security and intelligence teams were to hold a classified, closed-door briefing for all members of Congress. A similar session was held Sunday and more will be held Thursday and Friday.

Kerry will also testify Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will hold a classified briefing Wednesday with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Members of the House Democratic caucus participated in an unclassified conference call Monday with Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, Kerry, Hagel, Clapper and Dempsey.

Following their white House meeting, McCain and Graham, who often speak in unison on foreign policy matters, said they were more inclined to back Obama's call for military action against Syria if it helps destroy the regime's missile launching capabilities and if the U.S. commits to provide more assistance to Syrian opposition forces.

"A degrading strike limited in scope could have a beneficial effect to the battlefield momentum," Graham said. "There will never be a political settlement in Syria as long as Assad is winning."

McCain, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 and lost to Obama, said Obama clearly was asking for his help in rounding up votes. "I don't think he called us over because we're old campaign pals," he joked.

A senior state department official said Kerry called Syrian rebel commander Salim Idris on Monday discuss Obama's decision to seek congressional authority and to express confidence that U.S. military action would hold Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons, deter his behavior and degrade the regime's ability to carry out such attacks. He also stressed the need for a "strong and unified moderate opposition."

As recently as Saturday, McCain and Graham issued a joint statement saying they could not support isolated military strikes that were not part of a broader strategy to change the momentum of the civil war and result in Assad's removal from power.

After Monday's meeting, McCain said: "Now we are talking about ways of approaching this issue in a way that could be effective. We've got to see more, but at least they are talking about some options that I think could work. "

Asked whether Obama would expand his targets in Syria, McCain alluded to the Navy's decision to place two aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea. The USS Truman arrived in the region to take the place of the USS Nimitz, which was supposed to head home. But the Navy ordered the Nimitz to stay for now.

"I don't think it's an accident that the aircraft carriers are in the region." McCain said.

U.S. officials, however, have described the decision as prudent planning and have said it doesn't suggest the Nimitz would play a role in any possible strikes in Syria.

 

Comments

bullydogs1971

Let's get something straight; above ALL else, US soldiers must first protect and defend the United States Constitution (not the military's constitution). Their "job" isn't to blindly obey orders from the Executive branch, acting as Obama's personal slave army, regardless if it violates the Constitution. Wake up people! To the US military: Most of you know why you joined the armed services of this country, and I imagine it had little to do with fighting endless wars overseas. Deep down inside, you realize the LAST thing the Syrian people need right now is (more) bombs being dropped on crowded cities where women and children sleep at night. You must understand; suggesting violence as the solution to violence is beyond insanity. Citizens, stop ridiculing your fellow soldiers for refusing to fight preemptive wars overseas and instead realize that their voice of resistance is an act of courage and self-discipline you could only dream of representing.
https://www.facebook.com/IDontTr...

bullydogs1971

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks advocating illegal or violent actions.

bullydogs1971

i was stating the ideology of our government.....there was no avocation for violence in this statement....cant stop truth!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.p...

bullydogs1971

Irony....the country that used ATOMIC WEAPONS in Japan, CHEMICAL WEAPONS in Vietnam, and DEPLETED URANIUM/CHEMICAL WEAPONS in Iraq and Afghanistan......thinks it can go around the world and try to dictate who should be allowed to have WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!?!?

bullydogs1971

Kerry a Frequent Visitor with Syrian Dictator Bashar Al-Assad
12:26 PM, DEC 21, 2012 • BY DANIEL HALPER
.....AFP followed up with this report after the visit stating that Kerry believes "Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region"
http://www.weeklystandard.com/bl...

bullydogs1971

"Russia has called on Turkey to share its findings in the case of Syrian rebels who were seized on the Turkish-Syrian border with a 2kg cylinder full of nerve gas sarin."

http://www.turkishweekly.net/new...

bullydogs1971

btw sandusky register...im looking for a job!

bullydogs1971

Assad in 2010: 'I Trust Senator Kerry...I Met Him Five Times'

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noe...

bullydogs1971

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
NO TO WAR IN SYRIA
The American people do not want the United States to go to war in Syria. There are no American interests being threatened in Syria. Syria has not attacked the United States, nor American citizens, nor has Syria attacked United States armed forces personnel. There has been no Congressional declaration of war. There has been no United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria. To go to war in Syria at this time would be illegal and unconstitutional. To go to war in Syria at this time would be criminal under international law, the crime of aggression. The President of the United States is not authorized under law to declare war on his own. If the President will decide to go to war without a declaration of war from Congress, that would be an impeachable offense.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov...

bullydogs1971

Obama will attack Syria if Congress votes down military action
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/201...

bullydogs1971

anyone rembeber this???

Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to AL-Qaeda...

..."Lebanese Sheik Omar Bakri, a Salafist who says states must be governed by Muslim religious law, says al-Qaeda has assisted al Nusra for some time.

"They provided them early on with technical, military and financial support , especially when it came to setting up networks of foreign jihadis who were brought into Syria," Bakri says. "There will certainly be greater coordination between the two groups."
http://www.usatoday.com/story/ne...

is this the same AL-Qaeda that the TSA is looking for in our pants???

gramafun

how would we have felt if the French or English had invaded this country during OUR civil war? Would we have been pleased if they had sent troops to support one side or the other? I don't think so...so why is it that we feel it is right to stick our noses in a soverign nation's civil war? Because someone may have used a weapon of mass distruction? Didn't we go through this "suspicion" of that before with another President?

This country needs to stop playing "world cop" and start taking care of its own home before it goes sticking it's nose in other people's private affairs like civil wars. Heaven knows we have our own problems to fix first.

Contango

Senators McCain and Graham supporting the CIA Sock Puppet?

Is there ANY doubt that the Repubs AND the Dems are the Dumb and Dumber parties?

bullydogs1971

No War with Syria Cleveland

https://www.facebook.com/NOWARwi...

2cents

Yes, just what we need to do, back radical Islamic Muslims. 10% of the country is Christians and these Christians back their president.
I know they know what we do not because I have Christian friends living there!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i...

Centauri

"The spam filter installed on this site is currently unavailable. Per site policy, we are unable to accept new submissions until that problem is resolved. Please try resubmitting the form in a couple of minutes."

Interesting that I cannot post further comments backed up by links.

Contango

"If you list the countries that are somehow connected to the tragedy, it's a very long list: Israel, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Turkey and it goes on."

"A ripple effect in the region from any U.S. military action in Syria is what the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to avoid."

As I've written: With the entangling alliances, it is not unlike the events leading up to WWI.

IMO, the CIA Sock Puppet is playing with fire.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101004536

EZOB

A Jewish guy was walking along a Lake Erie beach and kicked a bottle. A Genie came out and granted Him one wish. "Let there be peace in the Middle East". The Genie explained that the greatest Genies of all time haven't been able to achieve peace in the Middle East. Okay, then I'd like to see the Browns go to the Super Bowl. The Genie said, "I'll start working on achieving peace in the Middle East".

EZOB

http://www.infowars.com/ididntjo...

Here's what our Military thinks!

bullydogs1971

you do not want to miss this....released today!
http://stormcloudsgathering.com/...

bullydogs1971

want to hear the voice of a Syrian??https://www.facebook.com/partisa...

2cents

Just in. My lady was able to talk to her parents in Tartu's this morning. They are burying a young Syrian soldier today that was from their village. He was fighting the crazy insurgents and they caught him. They chopped off his head and left him! So who in the f should we be bombing anyway?

I was discussing with a Syrian friend last night about his fiancé that is stuck in the middle of Damascus, unable to leave because it is unsafe to travel outside because of the insurgents, they would grab her, rape her and then kill her!

If our government wants to do anything then maybe they should help the people trying to get out while the various factions fight it out? Make a safe path with gun ships and a no fly zone, so people can leave and assist the countries nearby that have to deal with all the refugees.

Contango

Re: "Make a safe path with gun ships and a no fly zone,"

Stay the (bleep) out!

This sectarian violence of Shiite vs. Sunni will go on for DECADES.

Getting the U.S. more deeply involved in their struggle is like playing “Wack-a-Mole.”

That ass clown Wilson got the U.S. involved in "The Great War," in order to "make the world safe for democracy."

Both sides were pretty evenly matched. We upset the balance of power and succeeded in setting the stage for the next greater war.

Ever notice how the (bleeping) Democrats wanna get the U.S. involved in a shootin' war over high minded principles?

Debt and military adventurism were ultimately the undoing of past empires like the Roman, French, Spanish, British and the USSR - we are on a similar path.

Syria isn't even a real (bleeping) country. It was thrown together by the Allies after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

We're STILL (bleeping) fighting WWI and the latest ass clown in the WH wants us involved.

2cents

Comprised of mostly Phoenicians.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd...

Talking with her sister this morning from Aleppo they now just want out, their home is no longer safe, they have had no water and limited food for a year now. They wish to go stay with relatives in Sweden but can not leave. "Let my people go" was that Moses?

Contango

The Romans knew how to handle uprisings.

They'd go in-force, kill a bunch of 'em from both sides and warn 'em that they'd be back if they didn't straighten it out.

The U.S. hesitated in getting involved in Europe in 1941. We were 'kinda' hoping that the Nazis and the Soviets would off each other.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ope...

Unfortunately, the Japanese kinda forced us to be nice to the Ruskies 'cause we needed a second front.

Keep waiting for Pres. Obama to apologize for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

2cents

He has the experience at bowing : )

Contango

Pres. Obama: "First of all, I didn't set a red line,"

http://www.weeklystandard.com/bl...

What he originally said:

"...a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/poli...

Pres. Obama: "...the use of chemical weapons are aborant,"

What the (bleep) is "aborant"?

The (bleeping) lying sociopathic ass clown is making up his own words now?

bullydogs1971

Einstein: "The pioneers of a warless world are the young men who refuse military service."

Contango

Pres. Obama's UN Amb. Samantha Power has written that the U.S. should become militarily involved when genocidal acts are committed around the world.

The lefties have their own 'dreaded' Dick Cheney.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam...

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