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Congress Will Likely Approve Strikes on Syria

by M.J. Rosenberg

Sep 2, 2013 | Foreign Policy


(Source: Pete Souza)

The New York Times has a pretty shocking revelation on page one this weekend. White House correspondent Mark Landler reveals (after interviewing unnamed senior Obama aides) that the “most compelling” reason the president is seeking Congressional authorization to strike Syria may be this:

…acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran. If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it?

In other words, attacking Syria now makes it possible to attack Iran later. And there is this from Politico. Under the headline, “White House to Congress: Help Protect Israel” comes this:

The Obama administration is using a time-tested pitch to get Congress to back military strikes in Syria: It will help protect Israel.

Attacking Syria now makes it possible to attack Iran later in order to protect Israel.

On the one hand, revealing this motivation will be a political plus with Congress which, following the lead of neocons and the Israel lobby, repeatedly and loudly declares that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is an option that must not be ruled out. On the contrary, Congressional leaders (again following the lobby’s lead) insist that it must be “on the table.” Connecting Syria to Iran is a sure way to get the lobby to get its forces in line for a “yes” vote.

On the other hand, Obama signals to the American public at large that attacking Syria could turn out to be considerably larger than a single surgical strike. It could be the prelude to an infinitely larger war.

It is doubtful that public opinion will accept this rationale. More likely, it will lead to intense pressure from the grassroots to defeat the Syrian authorization. Americans have famously supported a “war to end all wars.” But supporting a war to start more wars seems unlikely.

Stopping a war with Syria is apparently the best way to prevent war with Iran. Congress needs to vote “no.”


M.J. Rosenberg is a Special Correspondent for The Washington Spectator. He was most recently a Foreign Policy fellow at Media Matters For America. Previously, he spent 15 years as a Senate and House aide. Early in his career he was editor of AIPAC’s newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum. Follow him @MJayRosenberg.


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