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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs