Tensions are once again tearing up Congress, this time on whether the U.S. should strike Syria or not. The Republican Party, usually so eager to "spread democracy" (read: attack other countries) around the world, is quite divided on the subject. While certain long-time GOP hawks are ready to strike given a proper plan by the president, the Tea Party wing of the party, joined by some Democrats, are in clear opposition to any military action. The latter group stands to gain immensely should the American people turn against intervention, as seems likely.
On the hawk side, senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) believes that failing to intervene in Syria would be a catastrophe for both the institution of the president and the U.S. But however eager McCain is to go to war, he has yet to be convinced by the president's intervention plan. Indeed, McCain want the Free Syrian Army to get better weapons to face President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
Another hawk, senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also wants to be convinced that the president's strategy will succeed, or else he might vote no. Like his Arizona colleague, Graham wants a plan that will help the rebels get rid of Assad. However, he doesn't want a mass-scale intervention like Iraq of Afghanistan.
On the slightly less interventionist side, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is one of the leading forces against an intervention in Syria. While he salutes the president's constitutional course of action to seek congressional approval before a strike, he is still firmly opposed to this foreign intervention as he is afraid it will escalate into something bigger. He might even have found a way to get Christian conservatives on his side by claiming that rebels are attacking Coptic Christians while Assad protects them.
Paul is joined by his fellow House colleague and Tea Party favorite Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who gave echo to the many pictures and tweets of Marines expressing their opposition to an involvement in Syria. Another Tea Party favorite, Representative Scott Rigell (R-Va.) joined with his fellow senators by demanding that Congress have a say in the course of actions. He is apparently backed up by 140 Congresspeople, including 21 Democrats.
With the Syria crisis, the Tea Party hopes that voters, especially the younger ones, will realize that not all Republicans support war, but also that Democrats, who were so vocal against a war in Iraq, are not always opposed to wars, especially if their president is in DC. Indeed, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is now actively seeking her colleagues' support to back the president's plan for limited military intervention. On their side, Secretary of State John Kerry and other top-raking officials are looking for international support, arguing that casualties of any strike would be very limited.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, it is likely to have a strong influence on the 2014 elections. And if Republican strategist Alex Castellanos is right that people like Paul are "in sync with a crisis-weary America and a fatigued G.O.P.," then both parties will need to think twice before they spend more money on a war no one seems to want.