Last night at the PDD meeting in New Castle, there was a lively discussion about a proposed resolution opposing the military authorization before Congress. The resolution is below:
[DRAFT] RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE SYRIAN AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE
The Progressive Democrats for Delaware (‘PDD’) hereby calls on Senator Thomas Carper, Senator Christopher Coons and Congressman John Carney to vote against the Syrian Authorization to use Military Force. While the PDD commends President Obama for seeking congressional authorization for the use of military force in Syria, Congress should and must vote against the authorization. To be sure, the PDD condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the apparent usage of chemical weapons by the Assad government in Syria. However, America must disabuse itself of the notion that it is the world’s policeman. There are simply too many unintended and catastrophic consequences that can result from any potential military intervention by the United States in the Syrian Civil War. No matter how good or justified our intentions may be, and no matter how limited and narrowly tailored our intervention is supposed to be, we believe that any military action by the United States will further destabilize the entire region, and damage the national security of the United States and our allies in the region, namely Turkey and Israel. The Obama Administration has no answer to what happens after we attack Syria. Too many times in the past, members of Congress have rushed America into war without carefully weighing all the options and all the possible consequences.
Instead of military action, the United States and the world should continue with humanitarian efforts for Syrian refugees inside and outside of Syria and diplomatic efforts to reach an immediate cease fire in the Civil War. Further, to address the apparent use of chemical weapons by the Assad government, war crimes charges should be brought against Bashar al-Assad and other responsible individuals in the Syrian military and government. If our President and our Congress want to send a message that the usage of chemical weapons crosses a “red line” and is intolerable, then make Assad join the ranks of the Nazis at Nuremburg and Slobodan Milošević.
We encourage all like-minded Delawareans to contact Senators Coons and Carper and Congressman Carney to encourage them to vote against the authorization.
The vote at the meeting was nearly evenly split, with one more vote approving the resolution than not. The vote continues today online at the PDD Facebook page and through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This progressive divide should not have been surprising but it was. For it was already playing out in the editorial pages of the News Journal. Here is Bob Stachnik, an early supporter (back from the Howard Dean days) of progressives in Delaware:
Although I was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I support President Obama’s proposed limited use of force in Syria. There is little similarity between the two actions.
Five years prior to the start of the Iraq War, and long before any talk of Iraqi “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Richard Armitage and Elliot Abrams publicly called for removal of Saddam Hussein from power. These future senior members of the Bush policy team came to power determined in advance to go to war. For them, the only thing needed was an excuse.
Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency, by contrast, was founded on his opposition to ill-considered military action and, in the case of Syria, he has been anything but interventionist. Far from spoiling for a fight, Obama has been extremely reluctant to engage. British Prime Minister Cameron’s government estimates the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against civilians 14 times prior to the newest, most horrific, incident. Only now, in the face of a particularly terrible 15th occurrence, has President Obama chosen to act.
The Assad regime was warned, not just by the U.S. but by the international community, not to use poison gas against its citizens. It has cynically and deliberately chosen to do so anyway.
This is not a happy situation, but the cruise missile option minimizes the prospects for future U.S. involvement and the possibility of civilian casualties, while at the same time punishing a dictator whose cruelty has precipitated a war that’s already cost the lives of 100,000 Syrians.
Robert Stachnik, Newark
And then here is Joanne Cabry from the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County:
My initial reaction when I forced myself to look at the pictures from Damascus of babies wrapped in shrouds, was to do whatever it took to get rid of the Assad regime. But this is revenge – not a reason to go to war. And air strikes are an act of war. I can think of no moral, legal or strategic reason to bomb Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This international norm cannot be violated without consequences.” He did not use “law” because Syria never signed the chemical weapon prohibition treaty. Even if they had, use of force is permitted when authorized by the United Nation’s Security Council. Syria has not attacked the U.S. There is no U.N. Security Council authorization for a strike.
The use of chemical weapons is horrific, but 100,000 people have already died by other means. Children have watched fathers tortured and mothers and sisters raped before being killed. They are among 1 million refugees with unbearable memories. Why are the deaths by chemical weapons treated differently?
Bombing stockpiles of chemical weapons would be untenable, since many would release poison gases into densely populated neighborhoods. Syria can deliver chemical weapons by planes, missiles or mortars.
The Pentagon estimates there are more than 800 rebel groups currently active in Syria, some affiliated with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Are we going to support these groups and give them weapons?
We need to speak out for humanitarian and diplomatic action. Tell the president and Congress that limiting “collateral civilian damage” by using cruise missiles still means more children wrapped in shrouds. It will not bring peace to Syria.