As anti-war voices try to galvanize their efforts to stop the Obama administration’s push for war in Syria, the tenor in Congress so far shows little sign—most strikingly among the president’s fellow Democrats—that the public opposition to a possible war is getting through to lawmakers.
As the second day of congressional hearings came to a close Wednesday, the level of opposition from members of Obama’s party was weak at best, with most members providing conciliatory statements on administration intelligence claims and few choosing to raise the critical questions circulating among policy experts and progressive coalitions.
This seeming acquiescence in Congress comes as poll after poll (after poll) shows U.S. public opinion firmly against a U.S. war in Syria.
While the House Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Gen. Martin Dempsey on Wednesday, the Senate version of that committee was busy voting “Yes” on a resolution authorizing the use of military force. That resolution will now go to the full Senate for a debate and vote, likely in the coming days.
With only two Democrats on the Senate committee voting “no” (Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts voted “present”) the result showed that despite some reservations, members of the Democratic caucus seem to be falling in line behind Obama in his push for a U.S. military attack.
Meanwhile, progressive, liberal and anti-war groups—including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), RootsAction.org, Just Foreign Policy, MoveOn.org, CodePink, Win Without War and others—are trying to utilize the political space opened by the debate in Congress by activating their memberships and agitating against the rush to war.
“The terrible and widespread killing in Syria will become even more terrible and more widespread if the U.S. military (or a coalition of allies) launches an attack,” reads the online petition put out by , which urges members of Congress to vote against any authorization of force.
“The choice is not between doing nothing and bombing the Syrian people,” it said.
After polling its members and providing an online forum on Syria last week, —which has been markedly absent in challenging Obama’s regressive policies generally—announced its opposition to an attack on Syria Wednesday and asked its more than nine million members to tell President Obama, the Senate, and the House of Representatives not to be “fooled into thinking that war-making will protect or defend a population.”
The activist group —which made its opposition to war known at both the Senate and House hearings on the issue—called for “diplomacy and aid, not military strikes” for Syria.
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