September 4th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
8 months ago

House members take on Obama officials

(CNN) – Three top Obama officials underwent another round of questioning Wednesday in their effort to sway Congress to support the president's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey returned to the Hill, this time for a four-hour grilling by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

They took questions on whether American troops would be committed to the attack and how successful the punitive strikes would be in deterring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons again. The House hearing came one day after the three officials sat before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for three and a half hours on Tuesday,

Read: 5 things from the Senate hearing on Syria

While the House hearing was underway Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the authorization resolution in a 10-7 vote. It now moves to the Senate floor. Some 48 lawmakers in the House and the Senate now say they can get behind Obama. But about three-fourths remain undecided or haven't announced how they plan to vote.

How will they vote? House | Senate

Live Blog

4:20 p.m. ET – At just over four hours, the House hearing adjourns.

4:18 p.m. ET – "I don't believe we're going to war. I just don't believe it," Kerry says, addressing concerns that a strike against Syria could be a slippery slope. "That's not what we're doing here. The president is asking for permission to take a limited military action, yes, but one that does not put Americans in the middle of the battle–no boots on the ground."

4:15 p.m. ET – Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, says if the vote were held today, he would vote "yes."

4:12 p.m. ET – Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, asked the panel to explain how Syria's use of chemical weapons is worse than its use of conventional weapons, which have killed more people there. It's a question CNN asked itself last week and found that many experts believe chemical weapons are different because of the torturous deaths and injuries they cause.

4:08 p.m. ET -

4 p.m. ET – Several congressmen seem concerned with the veracity of the Obama administration's intelligence indicating that Syria has deployed chemical weapons. They're not alone. Journalists are gun shy, too, after the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction fiasco. The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone discussed the media's caution with CNN last month.

3:49 p.m. ET – Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, asks what precedent does the U.S. establish if it doesn't act.

"We'd be walking away from responsibility," Kerry says. "It would have a profound impact on people's judgments of what we're willing to stand up for and what we're not willing to stand up for."

CNN: Is Obama setting bad precedent for future presidents?

3:44 p.m. ET –

3:42 p.m. ET – Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, brings up Benghazi. Kerry says it's "not a backburner issue."

"In an appropriate setting, I'd be delighted to share with you exactly what is going on," Kerry says, adding it's a priority for the administration.

3:35 p.m. ET –

3:34 p.m. ET – Perry asks if the president will abide by Congress' decision, whether they vote for or against the authorization.

Kerry says he can't answer for the president, but Obama has made it clear that he maintains the right to act unilaterally.

3:32 p.m. ET – Scott Perry, R- Pennsylvania, asks Kerry if he considers sarin gas a weapon of mass destruction. Kerry says "yes." Perry asks about VX gas. Kerry says "yes."

"Ok, so, those two were used in Iraq, found in Iraq before I got there and found in Iraq when I got there–for those who say the past administration lied about weapons of mass destruction," Perry says.

3:27 p.m. ET – BREAKING: CNN's Ted Barrett reports the authorization passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The final vote was 10-7 with one senator voting present.

No votes were:
Tom Udall, D-New Mexico
Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut
James Risch, R-Idaho
Marco Rubio, R-Florida
Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin
John Barrasso, R-Wyoming
Rand Paul, R-Kentucky

Voting present:
Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts (Kerry's successor)

3:23 p.m. ET – On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has started holding a final vote on the resolution.

3:14 p.m. ET – Rep. George Holding, R- North Carolina, asks Dempsey if Russia would be capable or willing to strike the U.S. in retaliation for the U.S. using force in Syria, a close ally of Russia. Dempsey says "it would not be helpful in this setting to speculate about that," adding that's something they can discuss in a classified setting.

Kerry points to Russia's foreign minister, who has indicated they're not willing to go to war over Syria.

3:05 p.m. ET – A lot of questions are being asked about the U.S. endgame and how America hopes to achieve it. Maj. Gen. James Marks spoke to CNN's Piers Morgan last month about that very issue. He, too, seemed to think the overall objective was being omitted.

3 p.m. ET – Calling his decision a "miracle of miracles," Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, says he supports the president's proposal to take action in Syria. The freshman congressman is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton says he would also like to see a regime change.

2:57 p.m. ET – Though Dempsey is downplaying the possibility of a Hezbollah or Syria retaliatory strike on U.S. assets abroad, CNN reported this week that the U.S. had beefed up security ahead of a possible Syria strike.

2:54 p.m. ET – Rep. Adam Kinzinger , R-Illinois, discusses Obama critics' assertion that attacking Syria will make the U.S. "al Qaeda's air force." CNN's Nic Robertson earlier this year looked into reports that the strongest rebel group had ties to the terror organization.

2:49 p.m. ET –

2:46 p.m. ET –

2:37 p.m ET –

2:37 p.m. ET – Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, also slams the Obama administration for being quick to want to intervene in Syria, but was "reluctant" to act quickly to rescue the four Americans who died in the terrorist attack against a U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year. Duncan questions whether the "power of the executive branch is so intoxicating" to steer Kerry away from his normally cautious self and pull the trigger "so quickly."

Kerry, clearly aggravated, takes issue with Duncan's premise that Kerry routinely advocates caution. "I volunteered to fight for my country, and that wasn't a cautious thing to do when I did it."

When Duncan tries to interrupt, Kerry shoots back: "I'm going to finish, congressman."

"When I was in the United States Senate, I supported military action in any number of locations, including Grenada, Panama, I could run a list of them. I am not going to sit here and be told by you I don't have a sense of what the judgment is with respect to this. We're talking about people being killed by gas, and you want to go talk about Benghazi and Fast and Furious."

Duncan replies: "Absolutely I want to talk about it." He holds up a photo of one of the slain SEALs in Benghazi.

Kerry argues the Obama administration has been acting cautiously, which is why the president waited until he had more evidence to make his decision.

"This is not about getting into Syria's civil war. This is about enforcing the principle that people shouldn't be allowed to gas their citizens with impunity," he says. "Let's draw the proper distinction here, congressman. We don't deserve to drag this into yet another Benghazi discussion when the real issue here is whether or not the Congress is going to stand up for international norms."

2:28 p.m. ET – Rep. Tom Marino,R- Pennsylvania, asks if Hagel trusts the opposition forces in Syria. Hagel says it's "not his business to trust–"

Marino interrupts, "Well certainly it has to be in the business because you're making decisions to go into war and put American lives at risk, so it's a simple concept: you either trust or do not trust."

He wants to know what will be gained by U.S. intervention and if a military strike would actually stop the killing. At least one expert, Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, has told CNN that U.S. involvement would only complicate and exacerbate" the situation.

2:24 p.m. ET -- While Kerry says he is hopeful that Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin will have a productive talk, a story earlier today indicated that Putin would be open to a military strike if he is presented with data that Syria actually used chemical weapons.

2:22 p.m. ET – Dempsey elaborates on the risks of retaliation in the region of military strikes in response to a question from Rep. Karen Bass, D-California.

"There's both conventional risks, that would be if he chose to use some of his long range rockets to attack his neighbors or some of our facilities," he says. "There's also asymmetric. He could encourage some of the surrogates and proxies such as Lebanese Hezbollah to attack an embassy. There's actions that he could probably seek to achieve in cyber. We are alert to all possibilities and are mitigating strategies in the way we've positioned ourselves in the region."

 Several experts discussed this with CNN on Monday.

2:14 p.m. ET –  "There are more volunteers than we can use in this kind of operation," Kerry says, answering a question from Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Arizona, about how many countries are offering support.

2:09 p.m. ET –

2:06 p.m. ET – Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, asks Dempsey if the military has a contingency plan in case U.S. military action in the Middle East escalates into something bigger than a limited strike in Syria.

Dempsey responds: "Yes"

Poe: "Do you see escalation a possibility?"

Dempsey: "I can never drive the risk of escalation to zero, but I think the limited purpose, the partnership we have in the region...begin to limit that risk."

Poe asks Dempsey to elaborate on whether he's still concerned about removing Assad from power.

Dempsey: "I still am cautious about whether we should use U.S. military force in support of the opposition to tip the balance...I remain cautious about taking the opposition's role here in the civil war."

2 p.m. ET – Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, asks why the U.S. should be the country leading this effort.

Kerry says the U.S. "is not being the world's policeman" and it's "joining other countries in upholding an international standard." He goes on to say the U.S. has a "greater capacity" to carry out such missions.

Deutsch also focused some of his remarks on American credibility, which was a recent topic of debate between experts from the Brookings Institution, the Hoover institution and a former commander of the USS Cole.

Kerry insisted America's goal was not regime change and assured the committee that there are moderate rebels committed to democracy. Here's a quick breakdown on what's at stake for the various players.

1:53 p.m. ET – Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, expresses concerns about retaliations against the U.S. by extremists, especially in light of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks next week.

There is a lot of talk about al Qaeda and the makeup of the rebels. Daniel Burke of CNN's Belief blog recently explained the roles various religions played in Syria's civil war.

1:48 p.m. ET – Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Virginia, says he believes the evidence "is convincing and compelling," but added "the overhang of Iraq has many of us chained." However, Connolly points out the differences between Iraq and Syria. For example, he says, the U.S. currently is "not dealing with perspective surmise about whether such weapons exist or whether or not he might use them...The question for us is what are we going to do about it?"

He goes on to ask if the U.S. does nothing, what is the likelihood that al-Assad will use chemical weapons as a routine weapon to turn the tide of the civil war.

Hagel replied: "I think the likelihood is very high."

1:40 p.m. ET –  Kerry says that if the U.S. does not act, "That would be one of those moments in history that would live in infamy."

"If we back off and give him a message of impunity, we will have said to him 'Nobody cares, gas your people, you do what you need to stay in office and we're backing off.' That would be one of those moments in history that will live in infamy. And there are those moments. Munich. A ship off coast of Florida that was sent back filled with Jews who then lost their lives to gas because we didn't receive them. There are moments where you have to make a decision, and I think this is one of those moments."

1:35 p.m. ET – Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, asks Kerry what made the president change his mind and seek Congressional approval.

"The president said he felt very, very strongly that it was important for us to be in our strongest posture, that the United States needed to speak with one voice," Kerry says. He added that Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, argued that it would look bad if the president was going against Congress, on top of U.S. allies and the United Nations. "We heard from you, and many of you said we think it's really important to come to Congress."

1:29 p.m. ET – Rep. Greg Meeks, D-New York, says he has very strong reservations about acting in Syria without military support from a broad international coalition. He asks Dempsey what will bring a solution to the crisis in Syria.

Dempsey says the purpose of the mission is not to take military action to favor the opposition but to degrade Assad's capacity for using chemical weapons agains. Dempsey says he can't say there's absolutely no risk of escalation that would require more U.S. military action, but he estimates that risk would be very low.

1:23 p.m. ET –

1:18 p.m. ET – Many members think the current resolution from the White House is too broad and does not rule out the potential for troops on the ground, nor does it give a timeline for how the U.S. will get out of the conflict after the strikes. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, tells Kerry the more narrow and carefully tailored the resolution is, the  more likely it will succeed in the House,

OPINION: Obama's irony, McCain's agony by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger

1:11 p.m. ET – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, asks if there will be boots on the ground. Kerry reiterates that the current resolution from the president does not allow for boots on the ground during the punitive strike. This was a big point of contention in Tuesday's Senate hearing.

1:09 p.m. ET – Hagel says there's no long-term military solution in Syria. "It's going to require a political solution."

1:03 p.m. ET – Could there be competing resolutions between the House and the Senate?

CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh reports that two House Democrats–Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Gerald Connolly –drafted this alternative resolution language, which is similar to Senate language and began circulating it last night.  A senior House Democratic leadership aide said it’s still unclear how the process will work for the House resolution.  They are aware of this language, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer are not endorsing it yet.

A senior GOP leadership aide echoed that, saying the process is unclear and it's to be determined whether the House will vote on the Senate resolution or come up with its own version.  The aide said its likely the House will wait to see what the Senate does, but won't rule out a vote on something different.

1:00 p.m. ET – Royce asks what other governments are telling the U.S. in terms of their support.

Kerry says the U.S. has reached out to over 100 countries. "Fifty-three countries or organizations have acknowledged that chemical weapons were used, and 37 have said so publicly," he says. "That will grow as the evidence we released yesterday becomes more prevalent."

He says he'll meet with 28 foreign ministers of Europe on Saturday. In addition, 31 countries or organizations have stated publicly the Assad regime was responsible for this attack, Kerry says. Thirty-four countries or organizations have indicated that if the allegations turn out to be true, they would support some form of action against Syria, Kerry adds.

"A number of countries in the region, friends of ours, have offered to be part of this operation," he says, though adding that the U.S. military believes it has more offers of help than it needs to carry out the mission.

12:55 p.m. ET – Hagel: "The Assad regime, under increasing pressure by the Syrian opposition, could feel empowered to carry out even more devastating chemical weapons attacks.  Chemical weapons make no distinction between combatants and innocent civilians, and inflict the worst kind of indiscriminate suffering, as we have recently seen."

12:53 p.m. ET -- Hagel: "General Dempsey and I have assured the President that U.S. forces will be ready to act whenever the President gives the order.  We are also working with our allies and partners in this effort.  Key partners, including France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other friends in the region, have assured us of their strong support for U.S. action."

Some Western governments are preparing for the possibility of a strike on Syria following reports of a suspected chemical attack on a Damascus suburb. While many options are being considered, some officials say limited missile strikes are a likely possibility. Click here to find some of the U.S. and allied forces in the region surrounding Syria.

12:48 p.m. ET - Hagel: "As a former Senator and member of this committee, I welcome this debate and I strongly support President Obama's decision to seek congressional authorization for the use of force in Syria."

12:47 p.m. ET --

12:47 p.m. ET – Kerry: "This is not the time for armchair isolationism.   This is not the time to be spectators to a slaughter....Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence."

12:42 p.m. ET – CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash reports the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up the resolution at 2 p.m. ET. Sen. John McCain plans to propose an amendment.

12:42 p.m. ET – Hagel and Dempsey just arrived at the House hearing, while Kerry is still giving his opening statements. Hagel and Dempsey were giving a classified briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning.

12:39 p.m. ET – "The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting," Kerry says. He again says he can guarantee "a far greater likelihood of conflict in the future" if the U.S. doesn't act. "We know Assad will read our silence, our unwillingness to act, as a signal that he can use his weapons with impunity."

Kerry adds the U.S. intelligence community can prove Assad has used chemical weapons at least 11 times.

A former U.N. weapons inspector explained Tuesday to CNN how "signatures of sarin" can be identified and how reliable testing and sampling can be.

12:34 p.m. ET – John Kerry reiterates the argument that the "red line" on chemical weapons was not just drawn by Obama, but by Congress, as well. Kerry says the world is watching to see whether "the United States will consent through silence." Obama said the same thing earlier in the day in Sweden.

12:31 p.m. ET - John Kerry: "I can tell you beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence proves the Assad regime prepared this attack."

Sarin–a clear, tasteless and odorless nerve agent–is one of the most toxic chemical weapons. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, said a fraction of an ounce of sarin on a person's skin could be fatal.

"It can be absorbed across the skin, it can be absorbed into the lungs, across the eyes. It's pretty gruesome stuff," he said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live." "It is so indiscriminate...So you don't even know that you've been exposed, necessarily, until you suddenly start to get sick. And then, it starts pretty quickly and can degrade pretty quickly as well."

12:28 p.m. ET –

12:27 p.m. ET –  John Kerry: "We're here because a dictator and his family's enterprise...were willing to infect the air of Damascus that killed innocent mothers and fathers and children...during the early morning hours of August 21."

Kerry announced Sunday that blood and hair samples from eastern Damascus, Syria, "tested positive for signatures of sarin" gas. Kerry said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the U.S. obtained the samples independently from "first responders" and through an "appropriate chain of custody"," not from the United Nations chemical weapons inspectors. Read more.

12:21 p.m. ET – Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the committee, gives his opening statement, saying he supports the president's proposal to take action but does not favor giving the president a "blank check." He argues American troops must not be committed to Syria, and the U.S. should redouble its efforts to help the opposition. "If we do not pass the authorization, what message will Assad get?"

Engel appeared on CNN two days ago, explaining the so-called "red line" and the difference between the situations in Syria and Iraq.

12:20 p.m. ET –  Chairman Ed Royce: "Over a year ago, President Obama drew a “red-line” – yet only last week did the Administration begin to consult with Congress on what that means.

Today, the House begins formal consideration of the President’s request to use military force in Syria.  It’s a cliché, but true: there are no easy answers.  Syria and much of the Middle East are a mess.  So we look forward to a through and deliberate discussion today, one reflecting the gravity of this issue."

READ: Obama: Red line on Syria is the world's, not his

12:19 p.m. ET – Chairman Ed Royce: "There are concerns.  The President promises a military operation in Syria of limited scope and duration.  But the Assad regime would have a say in what happens next.  That’d be particularly true as President Obama isn’t aiming to change the situation on the ground.  What are the chances of escalation?  Are different scenarios accounted for?  If our credibility is on the line now, as is argued, what about if Assad retaliates?  Americans are skeptical of getting near a conflict that, as one witness has noted, is fueled by 'historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues.'"

12:17 p.m. ET – Committee Chairman Ed Royce reads his opening statements: "This Committee has no greater responsibility than overseeing the deployment and use of the United States Armed Forces.  Since the Administration of President John Adams, Congress has acted several times to authorize the use of military force by the President.  One thing different here is that the Administration’s proposal supports a U.S. military response against a country in civil war.  Needless to say, this complicates the consideration."  

12:15 p.m. ET – Kerry walks in to the committee room. Hagel and Dempsey are not with him.

11:54 a.m. ET –

11:54 a.m. ET –

11:47 a.m. ET – About a half dozen protesters stand silently with signs in the House Foreign Affairs Committee room, about 15 minutes before the hearing is scheduled to start. One woman has pink tape over her mouth, while others hold signs that read "U.S. out of Syria." They hold their hands out, showing pink-painted palms. After an officer speaks with them, they sit back down.

The Senate hearing on Tuesday was interrupted at least two times by demonstrators opposing U.S. action in Syria.

11:17 a.m ET –

11 a.m. ET – Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Republicans

Edward R. Royce Chairman, California
Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida
Dana Rohrabacher, California
Steve Chabot, Ohio
Joe Wilson, South Carolina
Michael T. McCaul, Texas
Ted Poe, Texas
Matt Salmon, Arizona
Tom Marino, Pennsylvania
Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
Adam Kinzinger, Illinois
Mo Brooks, Alabama
Tom Cotton, Arkansas
Paul Cook, California
George Holding, North Carolina
Randy K. Weber Sr., Texas
Scott Perry, Pennsylvania
Steve Stockman, Texas
Ron DeSantis, Florida
Trey Radel, Florida
Doug Collins, Georgia
Mark Meadows, North Carolina
Ted S. Yoho. Florida
Luke Messer, Indiana

Democrats

Eliot L. Engel Ranking Member, New York
Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, American Samoa
Brad Sherman, California
Gregory W. Meeks, New York
Albio Sires, New Jersey
Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia
Theodore E. Deutch, Florida
Brian Higgins, New York
Karen Bass, California
William Keating, Massachusetts
David Cicilline, Rhode Island
Alan Grayson, Florida
Juan Vargas, California
Bradley S. Schneider, Illinois
Joseph P. Kennedy III, Massachusetts
Ami Bera, California
Alan S. Lowenthal, California
Grace Meng, New York
Lois Frankel, Florida
Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii
Joaquin Castro, Texas

10:59 a.m. ET – Heritage Action for America, a conservative political advocacy group, announces it also opposes military action in Syria.

“Heritage Action is opposed to punitive missile strikes on the Syrian regime," Dan Holler, the group's communications director, said in a statement. "Yesterday’s hearing made it clear there is not a vital U.S. interest at stake. Further, there is not a clear, achievable, realistic purpose to the use of force being contemplated by the Obama administration and officials offered little evidence such action would prevent further abuses.”

10:58 a.m. ET -
- The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announces it's sending a memo to members of Congress, including those whom the PCCC campaigned for, saying the progressive base overwhelmingly opposes military strikes Syria. According to a survey of its members, 73% of progressive respondents were not in favor of the president's proposal for punitive action, while 18% supported the president's decision.

"You now face a decision that involves life and death. This decision also involves billions of dollars. And it will send a signal to your constituents and the world about our nation’s morals and our ability to make strategic, goal-oriented decisions. This historic moment must transcend political party," Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, the group's co-founders, say in the memo. "Your progressive base stands firmly against military action in Syria."

10:30 a.m. ET - Two new polls on Tuesday indicated that more people oppose rather than favor U.S. military strikes against Syria.

Both surveys were conducted before and after President Obama's Saturday announcement that he would seek Congressional approval.

According to the survey from ABC News/Washington Post, 36% of Americans support military strikes, while 59% oppose. Support for strikes increases to 46% if other countries, such as Great Britain and France, participated.

Separately, a Pew Research Center poll shows that 29% Americans oppose military action, while 48% are against launching strikes.

9:30 a.m. ET – The Senate Armed Services Committee gets classified briefing on the situation in Syria from Hagel and Dempsey.

9:09 a.m. ET - During a press conference in Sweden, President Obama says he didn't "set a red line–the world set a red line" on chemical weapons being used in Syria.

Flashback: Last August the president stated: "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is that we start to see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized and that would change my calculus, and my equation."

8 a.m. ET – On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee takes up a revised bill authorizing a military strike - one that sets a 60-day deadline for use of force in Syria, with an option for an additional 30 days. More lawmakers may come on board with such a stipulation.


Filed under: Chuck Hagel • Congress • House • John Kerry • Martin Dempsey • Syria
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. onlyfacts

    @ look it up, "Obama's treating this like an election campaign". What planet are you on?

    September 4, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    ". "This is indicative of how little morals are playing a part in this sorry drama. For over 2 years we have sat back, shaking out heads at how terrible everything is, yet refusing to lift a finger because of " war weariness": what a crock."

    Now now...I think it was Edmund Burke who said it best: "World peace and an end to all evil will best be achieved by simply doing nothing." Or something....

    BTW, these idiots want to show their red hands? Fine. They like colorful body parts so much, they should each have to sit down and look at a picture book of the 400+ bloated, bug-eyed, froth-and-blood-bespeckled, adorable little purple faces that Assad created.

    September 4, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Data Driven

    @The Real Tom Paine,

    It pains me to disagree with you because your comments are consistently among favorites from the regulars here. But the "realities of power" are: America has much less power than we think we have. We certainly have no real credibility, as demonstrated by the depressing spectacle of our President begging our allies to help us in this lost-before-it-starts cause. Such are the consequences of our previous, pointless forays in the region over the past decade. If we must talk realities, then we must talk about the glaringly apparent limitations of our power. I think whiny leftists like me have a much firmer grasp of our dilemma than those who continue to insist that we must be the Leader of the World at ALL times, in ALL conflicts.

    If we must do something, let's engage the global community to put pressure on Russia, as Rudy NYC suggested and as you implied.

    September 4, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts but reality bites

    Look it up
    Tampa Tim – I hate to burst your bubble but WW2 was being lost after you came in. It only turned the Allies way after RUSSIA joined us.
    You HELPED to win WW2 but YOU didn't win it by a long chalk!
    ––

    You really don't know much about WWII to be making this statement. Russia and England were hanging on for dear life when we entered into WWII. Germany controlled most of Europe and had pushed into North Africa and was heading towards Moscow. The US started supplying England and even Russia. The US and England (and other allies) helped push the Nazis out of Africa (not Russia) and Italy. Hitler made several blunders but the major ones were declaring war on the USA when he did not have to and attacking Russia. He also should have left most of the military decisions to the generals. He was a terrible tactician. Europe and a large part of Africa would be speaking German today if it wasn't for the USA and Hitler's own stupidity.

    It is very dangerous when one gets too full of himself. Obama could learn a lot from that. Everything is about him. I really hate it when he uses the phrase "my military". It is NOT HIS military! It is the OUR military Mr. Caesar.
    *****************
    Its also very dangerous when someone reads way too much into a statement: did the though occur to you that maybe its because he considers the military HIS responsibility as Commander-in-Chief? His orders are the ones that put peoiple in harms' way: before you start, my nephew just completed his second tour in Afganistan, and his sister lost a friend when his patrol was ambushed just this past week. I doubt he views everything as being about him, but certainly you are making a mountain out of a molehill by picking apart everything Obama says and re-interpreting it in your own way. Unless you have a degree in psychiatry, quit while you're behind.

    September 4, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Dan

    John Kerry is a liar. when you attack another countries weapons (the way they defend themselves)
    you are declaring war on them. John Kerry says this is not a war, well if we attack Syria we are
    declaring war on Syria. And Kerry can't say its a joint international effort when no other countries are joining
    us. Some point if Syria attacks us back, we will end up going into Syria. The Obama adminstration is lying.

    September 4, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. nunyabizess

    When will our elected officials mind their own business?

    September 4, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Trotz Ihnen

    Is this logic correct? If the USA is indeed supporting the rebels in Syria and these rebels have strong ties to Al Qaida in Irak, isn't the USA supporting its main enemy? I am confused. Who can explain this dilemma?

    September 4, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Approve limited act.

    September 4, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Approve authority .

    September 4, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Hey you undecided and no votes , GOP and dems, the world is watching and you try to make Obama look bad but actually your making yourselves look like fools while you appear to let murder assed off the hook??? All the blood from the future gas attacks is on your hands,cowards!!!!!

    September 4, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Rakean Agung

    The wolrds need,the quick respounse,and the riel step to stop the killing civils and childs by chemical weapon,and give the funishment.And for its nee the quick action,for Cyrian crisis.Just not from US,UN but from the other countries,on the world,too.As soon as possible.I think on this time is not misjudgement,for Cyria.Please US Congress,to support of Brack Obama plans and action!.

    September 4, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. nitromays

    What gets me is all you high and mighty nutt cases cry if he does nothing and cry more if he decides to do something. You think just because you leave someon alone that dont like you hes going to just stop trying to destroy you. That might work on the playgroung but not world politics. The object is to stop them before they come here which is what we didnt do last time.

    September 4, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "They like colorful body parts so much, they should each have to sit down and look at a picture book of the 400+ bloated, bug-eyed, froth-and-blood-bespeckled, adorable little purple faces that Assad created."

    Sniffit, I seriously doubt it would matter to those folks who are at this point are completely against any intervention. They will tsk, tsk and look away and go about their daily business. Within 10 minutes, they will have justified to themselves that what they saw, as horrible as it is, shouldn't affect their lives or the lives of their loved ones. I have seen this scenario play itself out since my early teen years. When my brother returned home from Viet Nam and finally was allowed leave to visit his family, his flight was on a commercial airlines. During the flight home, he proudly wore his Marine uniform. He was 19 years old. I'll never forget the folks at the airport who literally split apart and hugged the walls in their efforts to avoid contact with him as my family and he walked the airport corridor to retrieve his duffle bag from the baggage carousel. Viet Nam was not their war.

    I loathe war. But, realistically I understand the need for America to step up to the plate. I haven't yet decided if Syria is where we should step up or not. My heart aches for all the people in the world who (unlike Americans) are forced to live in the squalor and the filth and the stench of death created by their own governments and powers that be. Should a message be sent that this is intolerable? Absolutely. Will it matter? This is where I stumble. I don't know that it will ever matter.

    This cannot be an easy decision for Obama or Congress. It pains me that it has become another chapter in American temper-tantrum foot-stomping name-calling soap-box rhetoric.

    September 4, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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