Research

Obama’s Syria Resolution Fractures The Left

Democrats And Obama Allies Remain Unconvinced

Congressional Democrats Have Called Obama’s Congressional Strategy For Syria “Wishful Thinking.” Some congressional Democrats regard this strategy as wishful thinking. It is just as likely, they say, that Obama will lose his request for authorization, or win it with more strings attached than he wants. In any event, if he takes military action and things don’t go well, he will own the results no matter what happens in Congress. (John F. Harris and Jonathan Allen, “Obama’s Summer Slump,” Politico, 9/3/13)

  • “Deep Divisions” Plague The Left On Syria Intervention Vote. “The vote will be unlike any other of the Obama era in that there is no clear partisan position and deep divisions on both sides. Much has been made of the split on the right between hawkish neocons and isolationish libertarians, but the left has its own divisions here as well.” (Alex Seitz-Wald, “Why The Left Is Split On Syria,” Washington Post, 9/2/13)

The Obama Administration’s Former Point Man At The State Department For Syria Is Now A “Furious Administration Critic.” “Frederic Hof spent President Obama’s first term as the State Department’s point man on Syria. He is now a furious administration critic, and a symbol of the growing consensus in the professional foreign policy community that the Obama Administration – no matter how its last-minute detour through Congress turns out – has badly bungled its Syria policy through two years of popular uprising turned bloody civil war.” (Miriam Elder, “What’s The Point Of Obama’s Syria Policy?” BuzzFeed, 9/2/13)

  • Frederick Hof: “The Events Of The Past Ten Days Suggest That There Was No Administration Forethought To The Possibility Of A Major Chemical Incident In Syria.” “‘The events of the past ten days suggest that there was no administration forethought to the possibility of a major chemical incident in Syria,’ wrote Hof, currently a fellow at the Atlantic Council, where his former boss is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Hof had floated the specter of a chemical attack by the regime months ago.” (Miriam Elder, “What’s The Point Of Obama’s Syria Policy?” BuzzFeed, 9/2/13)
  • Obama’s Strategy Is “Constitutionally Sound, But Strategically Appalling.” “‘The results of this mystifying lack of preparedness have been abysmal,’ he wrote, calling Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for the strikes ‘constitutionally sound, but strategically appalling’ and suggesting the White House find ‘an objectives-based strategy.’” (Miriam Elder, “What’s The Point Of Obama’s Syria Policy?” BuzzFeed, 9/2/13)

Senior House Democrat : “This Syria Situation, This Could Be The Biggest Miscalculation” Of Obama’s Presidency. “This Syria situation, this could be the biggest miscalculation of his presidency,” the senior House Democrat said Sunday, noting that Obama hadn’t gotten the typical bounce from his re-election. “Not only is his credibility on the line, but the country’s credibility is on the line. So, he is rolling the dice by taking this to Congress.” (John F. Harris and Jonathan Allen, “Obama’s Summer Slump,” Politico, 9/3/13)

Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel Says The Current Situation With Syria Is “Embarrassing.” “Rep. Charles Rangel on Monday called the situation for the United States on Syria ‘embarrassing,’ saying America should not put its troops in harm’s way because of a ‘red line’ drawn by the president.” (Tal Kopan, “Charles Rangel Says No To Troops In Syria,” Politico, 9/2/13)

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi Said He Had “Deep, Deep Concern” Following Kerry’s Call On Syria With House Democrats. “‘Deep, deep concern,’ Democratic California Rep. John Garamendi told San Diego’s ABC 10 when asked for his reaction to Kerry’s 70-minute conference call Monday with approximately 130 House Democrats.” (“Democrats Express Concern With Kerry’s Syria Talk,” Daily Caller, 9/3/13)

  • “Garamendi Identified Himself As A ‘No’ Vote On Intervention At This Time.” (“Democrats Express Concern With Kerry’s Syria Talk,” Daily Caller, 9/3/13
  • “Multiple Democrats On The Conference Call Reportedly Expressed Concern That U.S. Intervention Could Create ‘Collateral Damage.’” (“Democrats Express Concern With Kerry’s Syria Talk,” Daily Caller, 9/3/13

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN): “I Will Vote And Work Against” Obama On Military Strikes In Syria . “Democratic Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan angered Kerry on the conference call by comparing possible intervention in Syria to the United States’ failed participation in the Vietnam War.” “‘After a three-hour classified briefing and taking time to read all the classified documents, what I have heard and read has only served to convince me more than ever of the folly and danger of getting America involved in the Syrian civil war. I will vote and work against President Obama’s request for open-ended authority to launch military strikes against the Syrian army,’ Nolan said following the call.” (“Democrats Express Concern With Kerry’s Syria Talk,” Daily Caller, 9/3/13

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is “Deeply Concerned” Over Obama’s Syria Resolution And Says He Can’t Support It. “‘I am deeply concerned that the proposed White House resolution for #Syria is over-broad and would allow troops on the ground. Can’t support,’ California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted Sunday.” (“Democrats Express Concern With Kerry’s Syria Talk,” Daily Caller, 9/3/13

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Said Obama’s Resolution Is ‘Too Open Ended.’” Inside Congress, that sentiment bubbles up to people like Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the most senior Democrat in the Senate, who told reporters that the resolution seeking military force from the White House was is [sic]“too open ended.” He said top Senate aides are currently drafting new language with more restrictions.” (Alex Seitz-Wald, “Why The Left Is Split On Syria,” Washington Post, 9/2/13)

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) Launched An Anti-Military Action Website And Is Urging Members To Vote Against War Authorization. “On Sunday afternoon, as members of Congress were gathering for a briefing on Syria on Capitol Hill, Florida Democrat Alan Grayson tweeted out a link to his website DontAttackSyria.com and vowed to urge his colleagues to vote against the war authorization.” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “Well, This Is A Partial Blank Check The Way It’s Currently Drafted.” “‘Well, this is a partial blank check the way it’s currently drafted,’ says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). He says explicit limits are missing from the language in the resolution the president wants Congress to pass.” (Ailsa Chang, “Syria Resolution Could Be A Hard Sell On Capitol Hill,” NPR, 9/2/13)

Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA): “I Am Very Concerned About Taking America Into Another War Against A Country That Hasn’t Attacked Us.” “‘I am very concerned about taking America into another war against a country that hasn’t attacked us,’ said Representative Janice Hahn, a California Democrat. On the way out of the briefing, she said the participants appeared ‘evenly divided’ on whether to give Obama approval.” (Matt Spetalnick And Patricia Zengerle, “Congress ‘Evenly Divided’ On Obama’s Next Move In Syria,” Huffington Post, 9/1/13)

  • Rep. Hahn (D-Calif.): “I’m Not There Yet.” “‘I’m not there yet,’ says Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.). ‘I feel terrible about the chemical weapons that have been used. However, we know that chemical weapons have been used in other instances, and we did not take military action.’” (Ailsa Chang, “Syria Resolution Could Be A Hard Sell On Capitol Hill,” NPR, 9/2/13)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): Compelling Evidence Showing An Imminent Threat To U.S. Security Is Needed Before Any Military Action -Syria Situation Does Not Meet That Threshold. “Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) expressed a view Saturday that sums up the feelings of many congressional Democrats. ‘After over a decade of war in the Middle East, there needs to be compelling evidence that there is an imminent threat to the security of the American people or our allies before any military action is taken,’ he said. ‘I do not believe that this situation meets that threshold.’” (Ed O’Keefe, “The 5 Ways That Congress Is Splitting On Syria,” Washington Post, 9/1/13)

Progressive Groups Are Split On Obama’s Proposed Syria Actions

Democracy For America, Which Was Founded From Howard Dean’s Presidential Campaign, Said Its Members Were Too Divided For It To Take A Stand One Way Or The Other. “In an extraordinary email to its supporters Saturday afternoon, Democracy For America – a group founded from the remnants of Howard Dean’s 2004 anti-war presidential campaign – told its supporters its members were too divided on military action in Syria for DFA to take a stand on it one way or the other. After listing a sampling of DFA member voices expressing all manner of opinions on Syria from interventionist to pacifist, the group said it is not going to lobby Congress on how to vote on Obama’s war authorization.” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)

  • DFA’s Chair Said That Only One Thing Was Clear-Democrats “Are Not United As A Community” On Syria. “‘Thoughts are still coming in, but after our team reviewed responses from over 40,000 DFA members…only one thing was clear,’ reads the email from Jim Dean, Howard’s brother and DFA’s chair. ‘We are not united as a community. And if we tried to call for one united action in response, we’d be dividing our members – instead of uniting behind them.’” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)

Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder Said They Were Still “Getting [Our] Head Around It All.” “The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group that doesn’t shy away from publicly calling and even primarying Democrats when they don’t act sufficiently progressive for the PCCC membership and leadership, strongly praised Obama for asking Congress’ opinion on war in Syria. But the group doesn’t have an opinion on what Congress should do yet.” “‘Think a lot of people are taking this in,’ PCCC co-founder Adam Green said in an email interview. ‘Getting [our] head around it all.’” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)

Progressive Action Group, MoveOn, Is “Firmly On The Side Of Voting Down Obama’s War In Syria.” “Other groups and progressive leaders don’t feel the internal conflict. MoveOn, the grandaddy of online progressive action and a consistently anti-war voice during Iraq, is firmly on the side of voting down Obama’s war in Syria.” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)

CREDO, A Progressive Activist Group, Is Preparing To Lobby Congress Against Backing Military Action. “CREDO, a San Francisco-based progressive activist group best known recently for promising mass civil disobedience if Obama approves the Keystone pipeline, is preparing its own campaign to lobby Congress against backing military action in Syria. That campaign is expected to begin next week.” (Evan McMorris-Santoro, “Syria Splits The Professional Left,” BuzzFeed, 9/1/13)