Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Decision Point

Yesterday, we looked at the increasingly difficult situation in Syria. There's no easy solution, but Congress must decide on something soon.

As of now, many Members of Congress remain on the fence. Yet as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has tailored a narrow resolution for a 90 day air strike, a few skeptical Senators jumped on board... While a few (hardened hawks) jumped off (because they want full war). Let's just say it's a very complicated picture on Capitol Hill right now.

And so far, it's looking quite complicated here in Nevada as well. Nevada's Members of Congress so far sound mostly undecided. And the hesitation is crossing party lines.

“The administration has not yet articulated what a potential strike on Syria would accomplish beyond a ‘punishment’ of the Assad regime,” said Republican Rep. Joe Heck's spokesman Greg Lemon in a statement Tuesday. “There are still many more detailed questions that must be answered in order to make a case for military action.”

“The president must demonstrate to the American people and Congress that any use of military force would be strategic, effective and short term and promote our national security and stability in the Middle East,” Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said Tuesday.

“I believe the American people deserve and rightfully expect to know that any engagement with Syria is in the best interests of our country and will truly help those it is intended to help,” Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford said last Thursday, following Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that officials had determined that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched chemical weapons against his own people.

Meanwhile, Senator Dean Heller (R) is sounding even more hesitant about military action, explicitly saying it should only be considered as a last resort. So far, Rep. Mark Amodei (R) hasn't publicly announced any position on Syria. At this point, only US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) has publicly announced support for President Obama's plan for military operations on Syria.

Opposition to military action is building on the left and on the right. And this is happening as Congressional leaders (Reid included) are trying to build bipartisan support for authorization (for use of military force). As we were saying yesterday, there are still a whole lot of moving parts to this story.

And as we were explaining yesterday, this is so difficult for so many in Congress to swallow because of the legacy of the Afghanistan & Iraq Wars. But for The White House, there are two distinctly different historical comparisons at work. They may very well have memories of Rwanda and Bosnia in mind as they're asking for intervention in the already bloody Syrian Civil War. Does America want to be culpable for sitting on the sidelines as genocide begins?

But again, many in Congress are making different historical references. For many, memories of Iraq & Afghanistan are still quite fresh. And the nation is still paying the price for rushing into war.

So what are we to do? This is for Congress to decide. So they need to be incredibly careful and deliberate in the days ahead.

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