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Sep-03-2013 01:00printcomments

Contact your Rep on Syria

Warmongers in the Senate, McCain and Graham, promise the attack would be stronger and more destructive than originally described...

Barack Obama Cavalry heading to Syria
#Cartoon @Brasil247 – @BarackObama Cavalry heading to #Syria. Special thanks to Carlos Latuff in Brazil.

(PORTLAND, OR) - Obama’s decision to ask Congress to vote on his plan to attack Syria is a real opportunity to personally smoke out your own representative by name. As their constituent, urge her or him to tell you if they intend to vote against war or explain why they won’t. This is probably more effective than signing petitions from organized groups.

While the most despicable warmongers in the Senate, McCain and Graham, suggested that the Lesser Evil got their support by promising them his attack would be stronger and more destructive than originally described, a House member provided his colleagues with a model statement of a righteous position. Democrat Rick Nolan of Minnesota declared:
I want you to know that I am vehemently opposed to a military strike that would clearly be an act of war against Syria, especially under such tragic yet confusing circumstances as to who is responsible for the use of chemical weapons.
Some members will be more vulnerable to Pelosi and Obama, since their declaration did not clearly state that an actual vote by Congress was required.*
But all members of Congress will be subjected to heavy pressure intended to intimidate them by suggesting they are (1) endorsing WMDs, Assad and the killing of women and children (2) failing to protect Israel (3) eroding US credibility about Obama’s “Red Line,”et al. Many may be noncommittal and claim they’re waiting to see the final form of the war resolution or for more information, but ask them: no matter whether it turns out to be “narrow” (i.e. limited and no ground troops) or “broad” (a blank check as Obama prefers) where they stand on attacking Syria.
 POLITICO writes today:
“With morning news coverage reporting that President Obama could lose his Syria vote, White House officials are embarking on a massive, member-by-member lobbying surge. "The strategy will be to flood the zone," a White House official told Playbook. "We want every member to feel briefed, to have everything they need, to have every question answered. In-person visits, one-on-one phone calls, conference calls, classified briefings, unclassified briefings - everything is on the menu. A House Republican aide, asked if Obama can win, says: "I think probably yes. But historically these are considered conscience votes [what he means is that it’s not a donation driven vote—except for a sector of the military-industrial complex-mm], and we haven't broken arms. Pelosi will have to post a big number."-;
That surprisingly close vote approving NSA spying late in the last session resulted from an unlikely coalition of libertarian Repubs and liberal Dems that almost upset Obama’s agenda. But in this vote, the consequences for liberal Dems look to be far more severe. Already, we have examples of the tactics the Lesser Evil’s team is stooping to: The spectacle of John Kerry shamelessly playing the Israel First card by warning hesitant Dems that “I don't think they will want to vote,ultimately, to put Israel at risk,” and that of Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) shamelessly playing the “Kawaiti incubator murders” card, by imploring her party colleagues to keep "The searing image of babies lined up dead” in their minds when voting. For liberal Dems who take orders from Pelosi this will mean defying the Lesser Evil on the issue. Of course, unlike Brit PM Cameron who cancelled the UK’s participation in Obama’s “Coalition of the Willing”when Parliament rejected it, Obama has suggested he would go ahead  (with only his new “French poodle”) even if he losses the vote. Reporting on what called Obama’s “lobbying blitz”, the NYT quoted another of its anonymous “administration sources” calling AIPAC “the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” and said it was pressuring vulnerable members of Congresss, “If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line..we’re in trouble.”
(1) Regarding the “humanitarian” mission to punish the Assad regime for using WMDs (chemical weapons) Syria has noted that when it proposed the UN should ban all WMDs from the middle east, the US opposed it (to protect Israel’s nukes). Still many argue that the only nation to use nuclear weapons against a civilian population has forfeited standing to decide which nations are violating “international norms.” That tops its use of Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam, and expended uranium and white phosphorus in Iraq
(2) Outside the US (since the media do not allow it to be raised inside), people wonder how any nation’s legislature can “legalize” acts of war under international law, which permits military action against another country only in self defense or with permission of the Security Council. But ever since Truman evaded Congress in 1950 (he got the UN OK only because the Soviets were boycotting in protest of Taiwan sitting in China’s seat) to intervene in a civil war in Korea by calling it a “police action,” Congress has either been ignored or bamboozled with fake “raisons de la guerre” like LBJ’s Tonkin Gulf incident or Bush’s WMDs.
(3) During the June, 2011 debate in which the house rejected Obama’s request for support for his Libyan regime change 295-213, his then-secretary of state signaled how her successor will try to intimidate dissenters in this vote. Hillary Clinton demanded to know if lawmakers were “On Qaddafi's side, or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been bringing them support?" All Kerry does is exchange “Qaddafi” to “Assad”, and “Libyan people” to “Syrian people.”
(4) Insiders claim Obama was scared off by the Brit Parliament’s rejection. If so, I hope that vote suddenly made him realize he had boxed himself into only two choices. As one Labour MP put it: “Is not the real reason we are here today not the horror at these weapons — if that horror exists — but as a result of the American president having foolishly drawn a red line, so that he is now in the position of either having to attack or face humiliation?” I hope he understood his unfortunate declaration had turned a controversial military decision into an unwanted test of his personal credibility.
Obama could salvage some of the reputation with which he won nomination over Hillary Clinton in ‘08 if he would admit his “red line” was a mistake ( or just ignore it) and instead commit himself to ending all forms of Syrian deaths by insisting the Geneva negotiations that the US and Russia had agreed should have begun in June, must be held.. To achieve that, he must force the opposition to attend without the preconditions that so far have prevented the talks. As Robert Parry reminds us.“Though many Americans may believe – from absorbing the mainstream U.S. news – that it is Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad who needs to be pressured to the negotiating table, the reality is that Assad has repeatedly offered to join peace talks in Geneva. It is “our” opposition that has refused to go. The rebel leaders have offered up a host of excuses: they want the U.S. government to provide sophisticated weapons first; they want all Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon to withdraw; they want to be in a winning position before talks begin; they want Assad to agree to resign as a precondition of talks.” 
One possible road to at least a cease fire enforced by troops of neutral members of the UN would be agreement on holding the national elections already scheduled by the Syrian government next year. Assad has already agreed they could be supervised by neutral observers and has raised the possibility he would not be a candidate. So if Obama would end his military support for the opposition and force the fundamentalist oil and gas sheiks to do likewise, Geneva II could happen. However, he would have to acknowledge the US is not a neutral for the purpose of selecting when UN cease fire and election observers.
There lies Obama’s opportunity for a genuine “humanitarian” intervention.-MM
* These include: Barbara Lee, Suzanne Bonamici, Mike Honda, Lois Capps, John Lewis, Jackie Speier, Raúl Grijalva, Robin Kelly, Michael H. Michaud, Mark Pocan, Chellie Pingree, Nydia M. Velázquez, Stephen F. Lynch, Lloyd Doggett, Janice Hahn, Jared Huffman, Tulsi Gabbard, Emanuel Cleaver, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, José E. Serrano, George Miller, Donna F. Edwards, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Steve Cohen, Marcy Kaptur, Danny K. Davis, Alcee L. Hastings, James P. McGovern, Judy Chu, Marcia L. Fudge, Alan S. Lowenthal, Charles B. Rangel, Bobby L. Rush, Carolyn B. Maloney, Janice Schakowsky, Donna M. Christensen, Richard M. Nolan, Henry A. Waxman, Diana DeGette, Yvette D. Clarke, Keith Ellison, Niki Tsongas, Eleanor Holmes Norton, John A. Yarmuth, and Julia Brownley.
Dems who signed a stronger letter (some of whom also signed the other one) were
Zoe Lofgren, Rush Holt, Beto O’Rourke, Peter DeFazio, Sam Farr, Jim McDermott, Peter Welch, David Loebsack ,Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer, William Enyart, Tim Walz, , Bruce Braley,  Michael Capuano, Anna Eshoo, Rick Nolan, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson, Elizabeth Listy, Daniel Lipinsky and Daniel Maffei. Visit my website


Portland Tribune photo by L.E. Baskow

Order from Powell's

Michael Munk tries to glean important but overlooked items from the world media on the issues of the day and posts them on an irregular schedule. Although items can overlap, he also maintains separate lists for activists in Portland, Oregon and the Northwest, and special lists for: Labor, Latin America, Israel, Torture Taxis, Korea, and the Czech Republic.

Michael is a highly praised writer from an important generation whose book, the Portland Red Guide, has received high praise.

"City Commissioner Nick Fish gave me a copy. Sat down on my sofa and couldn't put it down until I finished. Fascinating!"
-- Tom Potter, Mayor of Portland 2005-2009

"Whoop! Whoop! I'm impressed by how many names from Portland's past have not made it into our official histories and public memorials. Some were good friends of mine. Local history is too often overlooked. Good work, Mike."
-- Bud Clark, Saloon keeper, Goose Hollow Inn, and Mayor of Portland, 1985–1992

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Ralph E. Stone September 4, 2013 7:08 am (Pacific time)

What bothers me, among other things, is that the Obama administration hasn't bothered to present to the American people the clear and convincing evidence it claims to have and why U.S. interests would be promoted by attacking Syria.

pinkfloyd September 3, 2013 2:54 pm (Pacific time)

Reasons to go to war with Syria: In no particular order: One: Give the appearance of unifying the country behind the President, who “did his job the right way,” by going to Congress for approval. This elevates Obama’s ratings and, by inference, suggests that his other programs should be accorded more merit. A wartime president always gains more support. Two: Give the people an adrenaline rush. The effect should never be underestimated. Cleanses the pores, cleans the slate, and relieves frustration by proxy, temporarily…if you have very little access to your cerebral functions. Three: In this case, winning Congressional approval reinstates the illusion, for a few moments, that we are a Constitutional Republic, with a government dedicated to justice. Four: Help fulfill the long-planned US-Israeli agenda of destabilizing Syria and causing it to partition into warring and chaotic ethnic factions. Five: Stop the construction of a natural gas pipeline across Syria, which would boost Iran’s economy by sending Iranian gas to Europe. Iran’s economy must be torpedoed. Six: Send a message throughout the Middle East that the US is all-powerful and the dollar must remain the reserve currency in all oil transactions. Seven: Feed the US military-industrial complex, which demands wars. Eight: Aid the long-term goal of Globalism/Free Trade, which involves putting the entire Middle East into unresolvable debt and suffering…and then coming in with outside elite bankster financing, to rebuild the entire region and own it, lock, stock, and barrel. Nine: Distract Americans from a number of scandals, including: Benghazi, FastandFurious, IRS non-profit division crimes, NSA spying, the continuing failed war in Afghanistan, and a tanking domestic economy with more and more people living below the poverty line. None of these reasons has anything to do with “punishing Assad for using chemical weapons.” In any case, that whole scenario has been thrown into extreme doubt. Your government at work.

Toni S. September 3, 2013 2:29 pm (Pacific time)

Do we really feel the people that were elected are even listening to the American public? I think we are all on a run away train to destruction and most citizens are powerless to do anything about it. I have called my representatives and my friends have also called expressing our strong views not to get involved. I have a strong feeling that 90% of us do not want this war but our desires will be ignored. More innocent men, women and children will be murdered. Blood is on our collective hands!

Anonymous September 3, 2013 2:28 pm (Pacific time)

Do we really feel the people that were elected are even listening to the American public? I think we are all on a run away train to destruction and most citizens are powerless to do anything about it. I have called my representatives and my friends have also called expressing our strong views not to get involved. I have a strong feeling that 90% of us do not want this war but our desires will be ignored. More innocent men, women and children will be murdered. Blood is on our collective hands!

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