Congress mired in Obama's foreign morass
WASHINGTON — President Obama's limited attempt to end more than two years of bloodshed in Syria and his insistence on U.S. assistance to a strife-riven Egypt have exposed deep divisions in Congress, with pockets of grudging support countered by fierce opposition toward greater American military and financial involvement among Democrats and Republicans alike.
The uneven reaction is partly a reflection of the Obama administration's own uncertain foreign policy path as it sorts out America's role in an increasing sectarian conflict in Syria that threatens the entire Middle East. The ouster of Mohamed Morsy, Egypt's first freely elected president, caused a web of considerations related to advocating democracy or national security goals. Lawmakers too are grappling with these questions.
Options for the U.S. military in Syria, from arming groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad to establishing a no-fly zone, carry risks and billion-dollar price tags, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a sober assessment this week that gave some lawmakers pause.
And such guidance has established an unusual crisscrossing of positions among liberals and conservatives in Congress and fiscal hawks and military hawks. The Tea Party's libertarian leanings have split the once firmly internationalist Republicans; some Democrats formerly averse to intervention are more amenable to forceful action under Obama.
Congressional efforts to cut off funds for Syria and Egypt were expected to be put to a vote on Wednesday as the House debates a $598.3 billion defense spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. On Tuesday, a Senate panel approved aid for Egypt, with conditions.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he still believes the United States should arm Syria's rebels but expressed reservations about a no-fly zone or any other military action.
“I don't want to get into a situation where escalation is very easy,” Corker said. “When you start a no-fly zone, you're flying overhead and you're seeing tanks on the ground killing people, what then do you start doing? For me, moving to that point easily takes us to a place where escalation can occur.”
Corker was scathing in his criticism of the administration for refusing to outline publicly its plans for arming Syrian opposition fighters. He said he requested a private briefing from the White House earlier this week, only to be denied.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Oregon police dog fired from job
- Study touts benefits of full-day preschool
- Tough Texas gets prison results by going softer on crime
- House ethics panel defers campaign finance investigation of New York Rep. Grimm
- With no indictment, chaos fills Ferguson streets
- Cathedral may host slave trade museum
- Immigrants warned of increase in scams
- Panel on Benghazi debunks theories
- Locavore movement takes to deer hunting across country
- Final Benghazi report touted as ‘definitive’
- McCarthy-era felon: Lies doomed me