News / USA

Obama Faces Risks in Requesting Syria Strikes

Obama Faces Risks in Requesting Syria Strikesi
X
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
x
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.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs