Dodgy business

"Dodgy business" Continued...

Issue: "Bright or rotten idea?," Oct. 5, 2013

The domestic wars may now overshadow the Syrian war, but that strife will not take a pause. The Syrian escape hatch that the White House and lawmakers jumped through after a fit of indecisiveness does not mask how Obama’s Syrian policy meandered from calling for Assad’s removal to working with him and Russia on a weapons deal. But getting Assad to relinquish the country’s chemical weapons stock is no slam dunk. Reports already suggest the Syrian military has scattered the chemical weapons stockpile to as many as 50 sites.

While diplomacy at the UN level slogs on, Obama insists that American action is still on the table, but he also agreed to withdraw the threat of military action in a UN resolution after the Russians balked.

“Absent the threat of force, it’s unclear to me how Syrian compliance will be possible,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressional lawmakers across the political spectrum have been more than happy to go along with Obama’s retreat from military action. Many are staring at reelection in less than 14 months, and received an earful from war-weary constituents that in some offices went nearly 100 to 1 against Syrian strikes.

In just days Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid went from “without question this brutality needs a response” to “I’m not a blood and thunder guy.” He cancelled another Syria briefing, and the Senate began considering an energy efficiency bill. 

In the House Boehner and Cantor, who went against rank-and-file Republicans to back Obama’s call for strikes, said Obama had not made the sale to the American people. The House passed another bill to gut Obamacare and adjourned for the week—only four days after returning from a five-week recess. Whether it’s a budget crisis or world crisis, on Capitol Hill this passes for getting the nation’s business done. 

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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