News / USA

Obama Administration Presses Case on Syria

Key US Lawmakers Signal Support for Strikes on Syriai
X
September 04, 2013 1:12 AM
The Obama administration is intensifying pressure on U.S. lawmakers to authorize the use of force in Syria, after last month’s chemical attack that killed hundreds of civilians. VOA Senate correspondent Michael Bowman reports that the administration’s most exhaustive lobbying effort to date on foreign affairs appears to be yielding results.
Related video report: Key US Lawmakers Signal Support for Strikes on Syria
Michael Bowman
The Obama administration has intensified pressure on U.S. lawmakers to authorize the use of force against the Syrian regime for the apparent nerve gas attack less than two weeks ago that caused devastating civilian casualties. Some members of Congress are deeply skeptical about the consequences of a limited strike against Syria, but  the exhaustive lobbying effort appears to be yielding results.

At the White House and on Capitol Hill, the administration made its case Tuesday for military action against the Syrian regime. Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke bluntly about the use of chemical weapons:

“It did happen, and the Assad regime did it," said Kerry.

Kerry warned against inaction.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) listens as Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 3, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) listens as Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 3, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
x
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) listens as Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 3, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) listens as Secretary of State John Kerry testifies on Capitol Hill, Sept. 3, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
“If you are [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad, or if you are any one of the despots in that region, and the United States steps back from this moment, together with our other allies and friends, what is the message? The message is that he has been granted impunity," he said.

Anti-intervention protesters repeatedly interrupted the hearing.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez acknowledged Americans are war-weary, but said the United States cannot stand by idly.

“We will either send a message to Syria, Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah, al-Qaida and any other non-state actors that the world will not tolerate the senseless use of chemical weapons by anyone. Or we will choose to stand silent in the face of horrific human suffering," said Menendez.

Several senators want strict limits on U.S. military actions in Syria, including Republican Bob Corker:

“I do not think there are any of us here who are willing to support the possibility of having combat boots on the ground," said Corker.

Kerry assured him there would be no U.S. ground forces intervening in Syria’s civil war. But he argued for some flexibility in the event of escalated use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria - or the transfer of those weapons to groups hostile to the United States.

Other lawmakers questioned what a limited military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will accomplish. Republican Senator James Risch put forth a troubling scenario.

“If we go in with a limited strike, and the day after, the week after, or the month after, Assad crawls out of his rat hole and says, ‘Look, I stood up to the strongest power on the face of this earth - and I won’," said Risch.

Kerry argued there is no way U.S. strikes would strengthen the Syrian leader. In fact, he said, the mere threat of force is already accelerating desertions among Assad-backers.

Polls show low levels of U.S. public support for intervention in Syria, something highlighted by Republican Senator Rand Paul.
 
“I have not had one person come up to me and say they are for this war. Not one person," said Paul.
 
U.S. officials say use of force in Syria would not constitute a full-scale war. Speaking at the White House earlier in the day, President Barack Obama sought to draw a distinction between focused military strikes in Syria and the long, open-ended campaigns of America’s recent past, saying, “This is not Iraq and this is not Afghanistan.”

House Speaker John Boehner emerged from a White House meeting voicing support for the use of force in Syria. Congressional votes are expected early next week.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs