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Obama Faces Risks in Requesting Syria Strikes

Obama Faces Risks in Requesting Syria Strikesi
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September 09, 2013 4:20 PM
Many experts agree that President Barack Obama’s request for congressional approval for U.S. military action in Syria is a calculated gamble. As VOA’s Kent Klein reports from the White House, the risk is that a “no” vote could damage the president’s political standing and U.S. international prestige.

Obama Faces Risks in Requesting Syria Strikes

Kent Klein
Many experts agree that President Barack Obama’s request for congressional approval for U.S. military action in Syria is a calculated gamble. The risk is that a “no” vote could damage the president’s political standing and U.S. international prestige.
 
After charges that Syria attacked its citizens with chemical weapons last month, the president is asking Congress to approve his plan for military strikes on Syria, even though many Americans oppose military action. And they are pressuring lawmakers, such as Republican Senator John McCain, who support limited strikes.

“So I want to begin by saying to you that I am unalterably opposed to having a single American boot on the ground… in Syria,” said McCain, amid hecklers and supporters at a recent town hall-style meeting on the subject.
 
Despite the very real possibility of legislative defeat, Obama believes congressional authorization will strengthen his hand, both at home and abroad.

"I think we will be more effective and stronger if, in fact, Congress authorizes this action," said Obama.

U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
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U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
U.S. Military Assets - September 2, 2013
Seeking congressional approval also carries political risks for the president, according to Steven Heydemann at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

"But from where we stand right now, it is not at all clear whether he will prevail in Congress. And if he does not, then I think, yes, this decision to seek congressional approval will turn out to have significant consequences for the president's credibility," said Heydemann.

A “no” vote from Congress could also weaken U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, according to Heydemann.

"And if the U.S. loses influence, if people feel they cannot trust the president or that he cannot honor his commitments, it becomes that much harder for the U.S. to use leverage, to use influence with various actors, to try to bring this conflict to a close," he said.

Obama contends that the integrity of the United States and the international community are tied to the decision to strike Syria. That credibility could be damaged by a “no” vote, said Blaise Misztal, at Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center.

"I think it would be a blow to the U.S.'s credibility, at this point, if, after all the pronouncements of 'red lines' and decisions to act, we were now to back down," said Misztal.

Congressional approval of his planned strikes on Syria would be widely seen as giving Obama added legitimacy. So he will take his case to the American public Tuesday, in a rare nationally-televised evening address.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

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by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 09, 2013 4:18 PM
MaCain is living in the past Vietnam war era. Since when, he became the de facto president? Why bother about him and his remarks? Obama put our Country's reputation on the line before he had all the facts. He may start something on a small scale, but the next President is going to inherit the mess, whether or he/she wants it. All the more reason, the potential Presidential candidates need to be careful how they vote. Mr. President, we should not be fighting one wrong with another one. There are other ways to get the truth about the attack and deal with it in a manner that it wont happen again without resorting to bombing. We really cant predict the consequences and somehow things will go in the way we want to it go.


by: Just_Saying from: USA
September 09, 2013 3:23 PM
Did anyone else notice the "product placement" on the stair car. ASC Holdings is a huge aerospace conglomerate. What a nice plug. Give the guy who's idea that was a raise!


by: Rams from: India
September 09, 2013 1:55 PM
What national prestige the author is talking about.... The world knows what America is! Lolz... !!!!

In Response

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
September 10, 2013 6:21 AM
Don't mistake American public with the politicians. Granted, that is how often a Country is viewed, lot of us Americans really care about what happens to the world and understand our roles. Agree that we are not perfect. The fact that anybody can criticize our government and the President without fear of retribution is the best thing we, the US offers to the world. In how many countries including India one can do this?


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 09, 2013 12:58 PM
A "no" by McCain is simply to pay the president back in his own coin. In his first term election campaign, Mr.. Obama had defeated his opponents by hyping on the country's war weariness and to pull back from all the wars by end of a set period. He had won on "no war" platform, while the situation then has changed to what it is today, a situation of a must for war.

Whether he is doing that is another question. A failure of the president to stand up to America's obligation in matters like this will downgrade his presidency. Mr. McCain wants to see the magic Mr. Obama will use to win a war without sending in ground troops, especially to achieve regime change which has been Mr. Obama's goal in the war in Syria. By going to congress, the president has not played his war card well. It is a failure of his advisers and diplomacy.


by: dibya from: delhi
September 09, 2013 12:41 PM
we are overwhelmed with the maturity of american citizen but disappoint to see war mongers american politicians.


by: Ryan from: Chicago
September 09, 2013 12:16 PM
This is a 'loose lips sinks ships' comparison but in this case, our arrogent presidents loose lips with red lines and his pride is sucking us into a war that shouldn't be. I think we should put Obama and Assad into a steal cage in boxer shorts and let them duke it out with fists. This is an example of a bad leader and is making everyone look bad. I vote no confidence for this president.

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