Obama Syria Speech: The President Will Have Some Unexpected Allies

Ongoing political turmoil in Syria has demonstrated that many Democrats and Republicans are kindred spirits in their views on foreign policy and military intervention. Here’s why.

President Barack Obama, who unsuccessfully attempted to garner support for an armed intervention in Syria from numerous world powers at the G20 Summit last week, is at the forefront of the campaign to take military action against the administration of President Bashar al-Assad. He is giving a speech proposing military action in Syria on Tuesday night — and he'll have some unlikely allies as he makes it.

Secretary of State John Kerry has testified before Congress and has aided Obama in his efforts to shore up legislative support for military strikes. And Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) have all endorsed Obama’s resolution proposing an armed invasion of Syria.

While Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have also backed Obama’s plan, the outspokenness of various Democratic politicians supporting a military strike against Syria has caught the attention of millions of Americans who are overwhelmingly against the idea.

Republicans are infamous for their championing of military strength, global interventionist policies, and destabilization efforts aimed at eliminating the administrations of “dictators” and “tyrants,” but now it appears that Democrats are at the helm of the effort to remove Assad from power and support the efforts of the Free Syrian Army.

Although 35% of Republicans backed airstrikes, compared to just 29% of Democrats, Obama supporters, as revealed in a Pew poll, are more likely to say there is clear evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians and that airstrikes would be effective in discouraging the use of such weapons.

Though new information revealing the inexorable support many Obama supporters have for initiating armed conflict in Syria might be surprising to Americans who still believe the Democratic Party remains on the left end of the political spectrum, it simply reiterates the idea that both parties share similar views on foreign policy and that both groups take turns challenging each other’s interventionist policies in a dance of protest. 

When Republican President George W. Bush announced plans to invade and bomb Iraq because of the perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), many Democrats, including Obama, quickly protested those actions. Now that a Democrat is in office, Republicans who are against a possible Syrian intervention are demonstrating against military strikes because of their costs and liabilities.

While some Democratic leaders like Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who serves as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have also challenged Obama and Kerry’s claims, a majority of Democrats are backing possible intervention in Syria. The power struggle between the parties was also apparent during former President Bill Clinton’s administration and his interventionist policies in the Balkans, as well as former President Ronald Reagan’s strong-arm tactics in Central America.

The dance of protest between the Democrats and Republicans in the postwar United States has become more apparent to a growing number of frustrated Americans who are continually plagued with growing unemployment, foreclosure, and school closings, and has left many exhausted from decades of meddlesome foreign policy. In fact, recent polls reveal that 48% of Americans oppose airstrikes against Syria while only 29% favor them.

The bottom line is this: Millions of Americans are realizing that both the Democratic and Republican parties support and have supported the invasion of countries around the world for motives that are not always just, and that military strikes against Syria will only continue to stifle conditions at home as more funds are poured into defense and military spending.

After all, a declassified report by the White House that serves as “evidence” of Assad’s alleged chemical attack does not divulge all details and remains unclear in what the "streams of intelligence" cited may be and how they were collected. This is very dangerous.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Ramiro S. Fúnez

Ramiro is a Honduran-American political journalist, activist and foreign policy analyst earning his Master's degree in Politics at New York University. He graduated from St. John's University with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. Some of his previous political journalism experience includes work produced for the World Policy Institute, Americas Quarterly, North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), NY1 News, New York Daily News, El Diario La Prensa, Queens Chronicle, Queens Courier, Queens Tribune and several other media. Ramiro was born and raised in New York City and enjoys writing about and analyzing international politics and foreign affairs.

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