Can the GOP provide President Obama cover to avoid a 'dumb war' in Syria?
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Can the GOP provide President Obama cover to avoid a 'dumb war' in Syria?

Washington : DC : USA | Aug 29, 2013 at 8:55 AM PDT
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Can the GOP provide President Obama cover to avoid 'dumb war' in Syria?

One thing seems to be clear: President Obama would like the pressure to attack Syria to just go away. He said last night on PBS NewsHour that "I have not made a decision" on a Syrian military air strike. He also scoffs at comparisons of this situation to the Iraq war.

He is not interested in "any open-ended conflict in Syria," and wants to avoid another Iraq-type war. In other words, getting involved in what could be another "dumb war."

President Obama also told "PBS NewsHour" last night that "I have gotten options with our military, had extensive conversations with my national security team. If the Assad regime used chemical weapons on his own people, then that would change some of our calculations - and the reason has to do with not only international norms but America's own self-interest."

The issue has been front and center in the White House and has sucked much of the oxygen there of late. Ironically, the Republicans may well provide the cover Obama will need for this potentially "dumb war" to just go away.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has made that difficult for President Obama with the inconvertible evidence that Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people.

Many Republican lawmakers, instead of being supportive as is traditional in these situations, are calling on the President to justify any use of military action. President Obama may just use this intense Republican reaction to his advantage and walk away from this "dumb war."

House Speaker John Boehner, for one, is urging President Barack Obama to define the United States’ policy and mission in Syria. In a letter sent to Obama, Boehner urges him to "make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy."

Another prominent Republican railing against President Obama is the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who says that he has not yet justified an attack on Syria. On Fox News show with Neil Cavuto, Rumsfeld said, "There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation."

Of course, anti-war Democrats are also speaking out against military action against Syria and getting into a "dumb war." What they have in common with the Republicans is that they want Congress to authorize any military action and they also want a healthy debate in the halls of Congress.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is one of those Democrats. "There is ferment out there — you just haven’t seen it yet. If they fire rockets in there, you’ll see a lot of people saying this is an absolute mistake, they should not have done it, I do not support it. The storm will follow if [Obama] goes without having the backing of the Congress."

Another is Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a former co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who on Wednesday circulated a letter among liberal Democrats — 12 have signed on so far — that asked Obama to "seek an affirmative decision of Congress prior to committing any U.S. military engagement to this complex crisis. Let’s be clear that the letter is calling for a specific action: debate. Congress must assert our authority on this issue; that’s a bipartisan cause."

The British are debating a government motion on intervention in Syria following a chemical attack near Damascus. British David Cameron said he was convinced the Assad regime was behind the chemical attacks and that there was a "clear legal basis" for proposed targeted strikes.

In a swipe at his Labour predecessor Tony Blair, Prime Minister David Cameron said "the well of public opinion has been well and truly poisoned by the Iraq episode," insisting that the crisis is not like Iraq. Prime Minister Cameron understands the public cynicism about it after "the Iraq episode."

Surely, President Obama understands the criticism, as he was in their shoes not that long ago. As an obscure state senator from Illinois, Obama made a speech in downtown Chicago railing against intervention in the Iraq War and generally railing against "dumb wars." The speech was at an anti-Iraq War rally before that was fashionable and the crowd was not that sizable, although the speech has become a favorite of anti-war activists.

Barack Obama is finding himself in the shoes of the President of the United States, a difficult position on many levels.

He is not an obscure state senator any more.

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Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

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Can the GOP provide President Obama cover to avoid a 'dumb war' in Syria?
Protestors in London are speaking out against intervention in Syria. Credit: Reuters.
MrGrassroots is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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