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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs