Sep 04 2013
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday kicked off a Congressional debate over whether or not to grant President Obama the authority to use force in Syria. Senator Robert Menendez, chair of the committee, opened the hearing by stating his support for Obama’s action. He and his fellow Senators, questioned Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey.
In echoes of the weeks before the 2003 Iraq war Secretary Kerry and some Senators referred often to “weapons of mass destruction” as well as to the graphic images of dead Syrian children that have now been seen around the world.
Most of the Senate Committee members, including California’s Barbara Boxer, were overwhelmingly supportive of the resolution, with some Senators even saying it didn’t go far enough to curb Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
The most vocal opponent of military strikes on Syria was Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky who argued that the President was playing “constitutional theater” by asserting he would strike Syria even if Congress voted against granting him authority.
Some Senators worried that the draft resolution presented to them by the President contained a loophole that could be used to authorize ground troops even though Kerry assured the committee that Obama was highly unlikely to put “boots on the ground.”
The hearing was interrupted at least twice by activists holding up antiwar signs.
GUEST: Ann Wright, former State Department diplomat and retired Army colonel, active in the antiwar movement