Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & US Senate.gov & Sen. Chris Murphy – 2014-09-19 00:58:57
Senate Okays Obama Bill Arming Syria Rebels, Delays Vote on War
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 18, 2014) — In a 78-22 vote today, the Senate passed the same bill the House of Representative passed yesterday approving the Obama Administration’s plan to train and arm a new faction of some 5,000 “vetted and moderate” Syrian rebels.
The plan is to recruit various existing Syrian rebels to go off and train as a new force fitting the US ideal of a “moderate” rebel faction to back, and then in a year send them back to Syria to fight ISIS.
Despite considerable reticence about the plan apparent during Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, the vote was not particularly close.
The vote is expected to be the only ISIS-war related vote the Senate will address before the November elections, with senators very keen to delay any broad resolution on the war itself until after the election.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R – CA) offered the same assessment in his own comments earlier this week, saying that there would likely be some sort of debate on an Authorization for Use of Military Force some time after November.
The Obama Administration insists they don’t need any authorization for the war at all, and by the end of November the war is going to be extremely entrenched and difficult to roll back.
Many Congressmen likely to vote for the war fear a backlash from voters if they do, and so are waiting for the post-election period, in hopes that the vote won’t be a political issue.
Sen. Rand Paul (R â€“ KY) was harshly critical of the plan to arm the Syrian rebels, criticizing the Senate’s “barnacled enablers (which) have never met a war they didn’t like.”
US Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress — 2nd Session
as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate
Question: On the Joint Resolution (H.J. Res. 124)
Vote Counts: YEAs 78; NAYs 22
Pro-war: Grouped By Vote Position: YEAs —78
Ant-war: NAYs — 22
Why I Voted Against War
Chris Murphy / US Senator
(September 18, 2014) — Moments ago, I cast my vote in the Senate against arming and training the Syrian rebels.
I continue to believe that President Obama has laid out a strong case for taking the fight to ISIL. I agree with his decision to launch airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, to compel new leadership in Iraq to achieve political reconciliation with moderate Sunnis, and to put together a broad, international military coalition. The president has shown true, decisive leadership in the fight against ISIL and I applaud him for his strength and resolve.
I simply don’t believe an effective strategy to combat ISIL requires America to get more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.
First, the moderate Syrian rebels have shown a disturbing willingness to join forces with Islamic extremists like the Al Nusra Front, a wing of Al Qaeda, and it will be nearly impossible to stop the rebels we train from joining forces with groups that pose a real threat to the United States.
Second, it will be hard to thread the needle of supporting a majority Shiite regime against Sunni extremists in Iraq while, at the same time, supporting a largely Sunni insurgency against a Shiite leader in Syria.
Third, I believe we are too optimistic that the American trained rebels will target ISIL when their true enemy inside Syria is Bashar al-Assad. Asking a minimally trained army to take on two barbaric foes at once seems unrealistic.
I hope you’ll be in touch with any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have on Facebook or Twitter.
I want to close by reiterating that I still firmly maintain Congress needs to authorize this new war against ISIL. This issue remains too important to not have all voices at the table before moving forward.
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