News / USA

Obama Faces Strong Anti-War Mood in Congress

Obama Faces Anti-War Mood in Congressi
X
September 13, 2013 9:21 PM
Now that the action on Syria has shifted away from the U.S. Congress and onto the diplomatic stage, many lawmakers are hoping they will not have to vote on a resolution to authorize military action. Recent opinion polls show more than 60 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military strikes on Syria, and a surprising number have called their congressman's office and taken to the streets to make their views known. VOA’s Cindy Saine takes a look at the anti-war mood on Capitol Hill.
Cindy Saine
Debate on Syria has shifted away from the U.S. Congress and to the international diplomatic stage, and many lawmakers are hoping they will not have to vote on an unpopular resolution sought by President Barack Obama to authorize military force because of Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Recent opinion polls show that more than 60 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military strikes on Syria, and a surprising number are making their anti-war sentiment known to their elected officials, holding rallies across the country and flooding congressional offices with phone calls.

On Capitol Hill, the peace group CODEPINK lobbied members of Congress and staffers.  Co-founder Medea Benjamin said the level of support is a real change from what she experienced before the Iraq War.  

"We get an overwhelmingly positive response from everybody, from the cars that go by, from the tourists who are walking by, from the joggers, from the policemen who are here, and the congressional staffers," she said.
 
This time around, the rallies have been much smaller and less combative than the protests against the Vietnam War, but liberal Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson said the public outcry has been decisive. 

“This is the biggest victory for the peace movement in United States since the end of the Vietnam War," he said.  Grayson said nearly 100,000 people have organized through his website 'Don’t attack Syria.'"

Bipartisan opposition to strikes

Conservative Republican Congressman Trey Radel is on the other side of the political spectrum, but on the same side on Syria.

“It is not that we are anti-war, or even war-weary.  What we are demanding from our leaders in the country today is to show us.  Show us the direct threat, or even indirect threat, and then show us a plan,” he said.  

Radel said his party is not turning inwards after the recent wars.

“Me personally, I am not an isolationist, and I sure as heck am not a, quote unquote, dove. I am none of these things,” he said.
 
Professor Allan Lichtman of American University said he does not believe the Syria debate reflects a real anti-war shift among Republicans.

“I think it is a continuation of what we have seen for many years now:  Republicans don’t want to give Obama anything.  They want to paste any defeat upon him that they possibly can," he said.

Political analyst Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal disagrees.  He said he believes the Syria debate reflects a real shift in attitude among the American public and among their elected representatives in both parties.

"We are seeing the results of a decade of growing disillusionment about our ability to achieve our ends through military force in other nations, particularly in the Middle East," he said.

Surprise to President Obama?

Brownstein said the wall of resistance must have surprised the president. 

"You have to think that part of the reason President Obama went to Congress was because Congress had never said 'no' to a president in a request like this in modern times," he said. 

Brownstein said the thought that Congress could say "no" was probably not as prominent in the president's thinking as it might have been.

He said he hopes the war fatigue will not prevent the United States from taking action when it should.

"I mean, you could imagine this sort of cycle taking us into staying on the sidelines when something else really bad happens around the world, like a Rwanda, and then the tide beginning to go back in the other direction," he said.

For now, the president has decided to give international diplomacy a chance to find a solution to Syria's chemical weapons.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs