Congress debates military strikes against Syria

Sep 3, 2013

Obama Meets With Members of Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with members of Congress in the cabinet room of the White House on September 3, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama is urging Congress to authorize military action against Syria, and says he is willing to work with lawmakers on the wording of a specific resolution.; Credit: Pool/Getty Images

President Obama’s call for military action against Syria gained significant momentum today (TUES). House Speaker John Boehner and House Leader Nancy Pelosi announced their support, saying they’re convinced that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people and that the United States should respond. But ambivalence remains in both parties and passing the resolution might be an uphill battle. Obama authorized the use of military force to punish Syria last week, but is seeking authorization from Congress, “…to send a message to the world that we are ready to move as one nation.”

French President Hollande said Tuesday that he’s waiting for a U.S. decision, insisting that France will not act alone against Assad’s regime. In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron was leading the charge for action, but unexpectedly lost a vital parliamentary vote meant to pave the way for British involvement. Meanwhile, the United Nations reports that more than 2 million refugees have flooded neighboring countries creating a humanitarian crisis. U.N. Commission described Syria as “the great tragedy of this century.”  The United Nations will debate Syrian intervention when the General Assembly opens on September 17.

Both Russia and China have veto power in the U.N. Security Council and will likely block any American efforts to secure international support for a strike. How is Congress likely to vote? Will President Obama authorize action, even if Congress doesn’t? How will France and the U.K. respond? Why do Russia, Syria and Iran standby the Syrian regime?


Ed O’Keefe, Congressional Reporter, The Washington Post

Josh Keating, Staff Writer specializing in foreign affairs, “Slate”

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