U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took to national television on Friday in order to present the Obama administration’s case for war against Syria.
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Though Kerry vowed the “mistake of Iraq” was not again taking place, his rhetorical case for war did little to inspire confidence in administration’s framework for war though much to remind potential viewers of when Colin Powell presented the case for war at the U.N. on behalf of the Bush administration a decade ago.
The document released by the White House is available here.
However, as the AP reported on Thursday, Kerry’s case seemed to confirm that though circumstantial evidence exists, nothing in the unclassified report released today by the administration would be considered a “slam dunk”.
In subsequent comments from the president himself at the White House, Obama indicated that though “no final decision” had been made, he said “my military” is looking at a variety of options.
Coinciding with Kerry and Obama’s comments, a new NBS poll shows that nearly 80% of Americans want the White House to bring the decision to engage militarily against Syria to Congress.
To that end, though drastically late to the table in most regards, rumblings among members of Congress signal a changing dynamic in Washington.
Though earlier in the week, Alan Grayson, an outspoken progressive Democrat from Florida admitted to Politico that most members of his party would only “become more vocal about the Syria attacks after they take place,” developments in the last twenty-fours prove that there may yet be a role for the legislative branch to play in stopping—or at least slowing—the Obama administration’s rush to attack Syria.
And even as much of the public challenge against the White House push for war so far has come from the president’s political opponents in the Republican Party, a letter drafted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) on Thursday and signed by more than fifty colleagues shows that Obama may not receive full acquiescence from members of his own party in Congress before launching missiles strikes.
Citing the Congress’ constitutional “obligation and power to approve military force,” Lee’s letter “strongly” urges Obama to receive “an affirmative decision” from Congress prior to authorizing any “U.S. military engagement” in what it termed the “complex crisis” in Syria.
“While the ongoing human rights violations and continued loss of life are horrific,” Lee’s letter (pdf) continues, “they should not draw us into an unwise war—especially without adhering to our own constitutional requirements. We strongly support the work within the United Nations Security Council to build international consensus condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons and preparing an appropriate response; we should also the U.N. inspector the space and time necessary to do their jobs, which are so crucial to ensuring accountability.”
A separate letter, sponsored by Rep. Scott Rigell of (R-VA), represents the Republican opposition to rushed intervention in the House, it was also signed by some Democrats.
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