The Case to Congress

As you’ve no doubt heard, President Obama gave a statement today in which he said he had decided to strike Syria. But then said he plans to have Congress approve the strike.

Here’s how the Administration plans to sell this to Congress:

And they detailed the coming campaign to get Congress on board:

  • Hammer home the potential threat to staunch ally Israel’s security
  • Provide detailed intelligence about the alleged attack
  • Underline that the United States ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, and make a case that American legitimacy — not just his own — is at stake.
  • Make the argument that failure to act could lead, one day, to terrorists acquiring chemical weapons from regimes like Assad’s — and turning them on America.

Item One: Assad’s alleged decision to use Chemical Weapons that he originally obtained to deter Israel against rebels presents “a potential threat to staunch ally Israel’s security.”

In recent months, Israel has successfully struck at Syria twice, and Syria didn’t even try to retaliate. Why does the US have to take a stand for the norm against using CW, when the Israelis are perfectly capable of doing so. I get that Israel can never be viewed as a neutral party with Syria, they do have unrivaled ability to stand against the use of gas against civilians.

Item Three: The US ratified the Chemical Weapons Treaty. But Syria did not. In the same way that Israel didn’t sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Why do we expect Syria to abide by the former when we don’t require Israel to abide by the latter?

Item Four: A strike on Assad is likely to strengthen the Syrian rebels. Who are made up, increasingly, of a bunch of extremists with ties to al Qaeda. If we make it easier for the rebels to replace Assad, doesn’t that actually raise the likelihood terrorists will get Assad’s CW?

I’m glad the Administration has decided to go to Congress. But their argument is just as weak as it was.

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
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