Marquette Wire

Syrian conflict pushes Congress to make decisions

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The Senate will vote Wednesday to approve or reject President Obama’s resolution to employ a round of “limited and narrow” strikes at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons.

U.S officials reported Aug. 30 that more than 1,400 people were killed in multiple chemical weapons attacks in suburbs outside Damascus. One year ago, Obama said a chemical weapons attack would cross a “red line,” prompting American military intervention.

According to the Washington Post, there is projected bipartisan support for and against the resolution and many representatives remain undecided. This reflects the stance of the Marquette College Republicans and Democrats, who declined to make a comment leaning one way or the other.

“The Marquette University College Republicans have a wide range of positions within our organization on the current debate about military action in Syria,” said a College Republican statement. “We recognize that both sides make a strong case and realize that this issue is one that will cross party lines.”

The College Democrats statement echoed the College Republican position, while also applauding the president for seeking congressional approval.

“The Marquette University College Democrats recognize the diverse opinions within both parties on this issue and will not be endorsing either side on this issue,” said the College Democrat statement. “However, we would like to commend President Obama for his adherence to the democratic process outlined in our Constitution by seeking authorization from Congress.”

The use of chemical weapons, like the nerve gas reportedly used by Syrian soldiers, is internationally outlawed under the 1925 Geneva Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria is a party to the Geneva Convention and is in violation of international law, prompting the response by President Obama.

“Syria’s escalating use of chemical weapons threatens its neighbors,” Obama said at the end of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg Sept. 6. “But, more broadly, it threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations, and those nations represent 98 percent of the world’s people.”

Yesterday, Syria’s foreign minister in Moscow welcomed a diplomatic proposal to turn over its chemical weapons to international monitors to avert U.S strikes. White House and State Department officials said they are open to diplomatic negotiations, but noted that they are not a reason to retreat from a threat of a military strike.

The resolution was brought to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee last Wednesday. It would permit up to 90 days of military action against the Syrian government and bar the deployment of U.S combat troops on the ground, while allowing a small rescue mission to be used in an emergency situation.

After hours of debate, the resolution passed 10-7 with one member voting “present.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is a member of the committee and was one of the members who voted “no” to the resolution.

“The vote on a resolution to authorize military force in Syria was taken only 25 hours after formal hearings began,” Johnson said. “There were so many unanswered questions that I could not even consider voting ‘yes.’ It is unfortunate that a matter of such gravity was so inappropriately rushed.”

Johnson also explained he would continue seeking more answers on the situation because of its importance until the final vote this coming Wednesday.

Although the resolution passed through the committee and onto the Senate floor, the Washington Post projects only 23 senators are in favor of it and 50 senators remain undecided.

In a statement released by her office, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said there needs to be a stronger case made to the American people for involvement in Syria.

“America must not act alone,” Baldwin said in the statement. “We must engage a much larger, broader international community on this.”

In response to the seemingly low amount of support in the Senate, President Obama gave seven different interviews Monday and has a scheduled primetime national address Tuesday night to make a case to the American people and Congress to intervene in Syria.

Even if the resolution passes in the Senate, members of the House of Representatives appear less supportive. The Washington Post projected that 408 of 433 representatives are either undecided, leaning toward no, or against military action.

Rep. Gwen Moore, who represents the Fourth District, which includes Marquette’s campus, has not been too vocal in the debate, only releasing one statement on the issue.

“I look forward to engaging in a comprehensive and productive debate on whether the United States should take military action,” Moore said in the statement.

Moore is undecided, according to the Washington Post.

 

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