Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves resolution for use of force in Syria

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Washington Post reports, Senate panel passes resolution authorizing strike on Syria (paragraphs have been reordered):

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution
Wednesday granting President Obama limited authority to launch a
military strike on Syria in response to its reported use of chemical
weapons against civilians.

Acting hours after Obama, during a visit to Sweden, said the
credibility of Congress and the international community was also at
stake, the committee voted 10 to 7, with one member voting “present,” to
approve using force against the government of Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad.

* * *

The senators voting in favor of the resolution were Menendez, McCain,
ranking member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Benjamin
L. Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.),
Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeff Flake
(R-Ariz.)
.

Voting against were Paul and Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.),
Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio
(R-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Sen. Edward
J. Markey (D-Mass.) voted “present.”

* * *

The committee approved a McCain amendment aimed at strengthening the moderate rebel groups fighting Assad.

* * *

The resolution now goes to the full Senate. The House is
separately considering a similar resolution.

The Senate committee’s version,
released late Tuesday by a bipartisan group of senators, would permit
up to 90 days of military action against the Syrian government and bar
the deployment of U.S. combat troops in Syria, while allowing a small
rescue mission in the event of an emergency. The White House also would
be required within 30 days of enactment of the resolution to send
lawmakers a plan for a diplomatic solution to end the violence in Syria.

Opening a hearing Wednesday afternoon to consider amendments to the
resolution, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign
Relations Committee, said it was “tightly tailored” to give the
president the necessary authority but “does not authorize” the use of
U.S. ground troops in Syria. The committee subsequently rejected, by a
14-4 vote, an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would have
imposed further restrictions by invoking provisions of the 1973 War
Powers Resolution.

* * *

In a news conference in Stockholm,
the first leg of a trip that will take him to Russia for a Group of 20
summit, Obama made the case for a U.S. strike on Syria “limited in time
and in scope” to degrade Assad’s military capabilities and deter him
from resorting to chemical weapons again in his brutal war, now in its
third year, against rebels seeking his ouster.

“I didn’t set a red line,”
Obama said in response to a question. “The world set a red line” when
it declared chemical weapons “abhorrent” and passed a treaty forbidding
them. “Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.”

* * *

In the news conference in Sweden, Obama said in making the case for
military action: “My credibility is not on the line. The international
community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s
credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion
that these international norms are important.”

Appearing before
reporters with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Obama said: “I
do think that we have to act. Because if we don’t, we are effectively
saying that even though we may condemn it and issue resolutions and so
forth and so on, somebody who is not shamed by resolutions can continue
to act with impunity. And those international norms begin to erode
. And
other despots and authoritarian regimes can . . . say, that’s something
we can get away with. And that then calls into question other
international norms and laws of war, and whether those are going to be
enforced
.”

* * *

[Obama] argued that when 1,400 innocent civilians, including 400 children,
are gassed to death in a war that has already claimed tens of thousands
of lives, “the moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing.”

“I
would much rather spend my time talking about how every 3- and
4-year-old gets a good education than I would spending time thinking
about how I can prevent 3- and 4-year-olds from being subjected to
chemical weapons and nerve gas,” Obama continued. But as U.S. president,
“I can’t avoid those questions, because as much as we are criticized,
when bad stuff happens around the world, the first question is, what is
the United States going to do about it?”

* * *

Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, however, had harsh words Wednesday for the United States, warning Washington in an Associated Press interview against launching a military strike against Syria, Russia’s only ally in the Middle East.

He
also said Congress has no right to authorize the use of force against
Syria without a U.N. Security Council resolution and that doing so would
be an “act of aggression,” Reuters news agency reported.

Russia has a veto in the U.N. Security Council and can veto any Security Council resolution. One totalitarian defending the murderous acts of another totalitarian of its client state is not a morally persuasive argument. Russia (as the USSR) signed and ratified the Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons, and Russia signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Russia, as well as all signatories to these treaties, are duty-bound to enforce these treaties or these treaties become meaningless gestures on a worthless piece of paper. Then there are no rules of war, and anything goes.

As President Obama said, "The international
community’s credibility is on the line. . . because we give lip service to the notion
that these international norms are important. And that then calls into question other
international norms and laws of war, and whether those are going to be
enforced.” There is no justifiable reason why the signatories to these treaties are not unified in their condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, and stand unified and ready to enforce international treaties and law. it is a legal and moral obligation. The Assad regime should stand alone against the world.

One response to “Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves resolution for use of force in Syria

  1. Bruce Freiberg

    So, then, speaking of rules: Under the UN Charter, there are only two reasons for going to war – self defense or a Security Council resolution. A unilateral US strike would be illegal under international law and a war crime.

    As to Russia using its veto power in the Security Council, how many vetoes has the US used to protect Israel? And now, Russia would protect Syria, that is a problem?? Obama is the one who should be studying international norms here, especially in view of the fact of overwhelming opposition of the American people to this sham.

    In the 1980’s, the US facilitated Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran, and US intelligence even pin-pointed Iranian troop locations to maximize the Iranian deaths. In Fallujah, the US itself used white phosphorous against the civilian population. Should we have “stood alone against the world” as you say? In 2009, Israel was proven to have killed an maimed hundreds of defenseless Gazan civilians with white phosphorous. Where were the calls to go after Netanyahu and bomb Israel? This selective moral outrage does not go unnoticed by the rest of the world, and paints us as the hypocrites that we are.