Op-Ed: Obama gains support from senior Congress leaders

Posted Sep 3, 2013 by Ken Hanly
Some senior members from both parties said that they would support Obama's motion for a strike against Syria for Assad's alleged chemical weapons' attack in the suburbs of Damascus.
John Boehner
Representative John A. Boehner, Speaker of the House.
Courtesy Congressman Boehner
House speaker and top Republican in Congress, John Boehner, said he would support Obama's resolution to strike Syria in punishment for Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. He also called on other Republicans in the House to follow suit. Boehner said: "We have enemies around the world that need to understand we are not going to tolerate this type of behavior," He also said: "This is something that the United States, as a country, needs to do. I'm going to support the president's call for action. I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action."The Republican majority leader in the house, Eric Cantor, also supported the Obama resolution.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party leader in the House of Representatives had already voiced her support for Obama. She also said that she thought that Congress would support Obama as Assad's action was "behaviour outside the circle of civilised human behaviour and we must respond''. When Saddam Hussein did this during his war with Iran the US provided him with intelligence in return. Pelosi did recommend that the public hear more of the intelligence gathered against Assad. Of course this means US or French intelligence not any counter evidence. Obama himself said he was confident of Congress support. The resolution allows considerable scope for action by Obama although he always talks as if it is limited:"What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad's capabilities.At the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition,"
Note that he speaks of degrading Assad's capabilities, not his capabilities of delivering chemical attacks, just his capabilities. At the same time he is going to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition. Obama always says that the attack has nothing to do with regime change. But that is what it is all about. It is degrading Assad's military capacities while strengthening those of the rebels so that eventually he will be overthrown.
No doubt there will be some amendments to the motion in Congress and Obama seemed not concerned about that: "I would not be going to Congress if I wasn't serious about consultations and believing that by shaping the authorisation to make sure we accomplish the mission, we will be more effective."
Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee was working with Democrat Robert Menendez chair of the Foreign Relations Committee to draft a resolution that would narrow the scope of the resolution making it clear there would be no deployment of US ground troops and also limit the duration of the operation. Earlier two Republican hawks, John McCain and Lindsey Graham said they would support the Obama resolution. They see it as degrading Assad's military capacities and helping the rebels.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that any "punitive" action could very well unleash more turmoil and bloodshed. The refugee crisis is increasing with almost two million refugees fleeing Syria. He also pointed out that the strikes that the US and France were considering were legal only if in self-defence under the UN charter, unless approved by the Security Council.