Monday, September 9, 2013

Who's The Boss?

Congress returns to work in DC this week, and for all the hand-wringing Reid Epstein at Politico did over the weekend about the calendar pressing on President Obama, the list and gravity of tasks facing Congress is much longer, much heavier, and more complex than what the President is facing - and Congress only has nine work days scheduled to finish it all.

Of course, the first order of business in both houses when Congress returns will be the vote on whether to authorize a military strike in Syria.

The White House continued prosecuting its case in the national media over the weekend, and the President is scheduled to speak to the nation on Tuesday about the decision on Syria that Congress will pick up this week. However, neither the facts or the numbers have really changed from what we outlined on Friday, when we pointedly noted multiple polls that confirm Americans do NOT want to get involved militarily in Syria.

At his press conference at the G-20 Friday, President Obama said that the decision to strike shouldn't depend on public opinion - a comment we firmly disagree with.

If America is going to play policeman to the world once again, there are two solid questions we believe most Americans want answered before Congress votes.

First, is Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad directly responsible for using chemical weapons on his own people?

Regardless of what Secretary of State Kerry and others were pushing on the Sunday shows, the facts about the chemical weapons attacks of August 21 are anything but clear. Over the weekend, CBS's Charlie Rose interviewed Syria's President Assad, who noted that there is no concrete evidence that he attacked his own people with chemical weapons.

German intelligence sources over the weekend also confirmed that Syrian government forces may have carried out the attack without Assad's permission. Further, as Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida confirmed in both an interview with Ezra Klein, and in the Congressman's own op-ed in the New York Times, the Obama Administration has no 'smoking gun' that proves Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is directly responsible for using chemical weapons on his own people.

The second question Americans want answered is also relatively simple: Would an American strike of limited scope, durability, and duration likely stop Assad's forces from using chemical weapons - or any weapon of mass destruction - again? As multiple sources confirmed over the past few days, many at the highest levels in the U.S. military don't support military action in Syria, for a whole host of reasons, and they don't think the kind of limited military action being discussed would be effective in truly deterring future use of chemical weapons.

It's easy, then, to see why Americans are so anxious to keep our role as "World Policeman" restrained. We can't be sure the person the world claims is truly responsible actually is the guilty party. Further, the proposed punishment for the crime would admittedly be ineffective. Based on those facts, and the fact that most of America doesn't want our nation to take military action in Syria, the decision by members of Congress shouldn't be very difficult.

Then again, military and weapons manufacturers have been stuffing the campaign coffers of many, many members of Congress from both parties, for many years.

The votes on Syria by each member of both the House and Senate will tell us all a great deal about who they really think they should pay attention to. We hope voters will remember these upcoming votes in 2014 and beyond - and vote accordingly.

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