warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Senate Syria Resolution Sets 90 Day Limit On Military Action

Benjamin Li |
September 4, 2013 | 11:14 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Obama sits with his congressional leaders planning for Syria. (Flickr Creative Commons/stephen_medlock)
Obama sits with his congressional leaders planning for Syria. (Flickr Creative Commons/stephen_medlock)
The Senate Foreign Relations committee came to a bipartisan agreement this Tuesday and drafted a resolution which could be voted on as early as Wednesday proposing the use of U.S. military force to punish the alleged chemical transgressions of the Syrian government.

The resolution will allow for only 60 days of military action in Syria, with only one 30-day extension to be granted under extreme conditions.

Under no circumstances will the resolution permit U.S. ground troops to enter the battlefield in the full-blown Syrian Civil War.

Senators Robert Menendez and Bob Corker back the resolution; Menendez heads the foreign relations committee, while Corker is its leading Republican member. 

“Together we have pursued a course of action that gives the President the authority he needs to deploy force in response to the Assad regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, while assuring that the authorization is narrow and focused, limited in time, and assures that the Armed Forces of the United States will not be deployed for combat operations in Syria,” said Menendez about the resolution draft in a statement. 

Motivations for approving the resolution seem to stem from an issue of the credibility of U.S. foreign policy, with numerous political figures on both sides of the partisan spectrum showing support for Obama for similar reasons.

“I didn’t set a red line – the world set a red line,” said Obama himself had said on Wednesday. “The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”

John Kerry expressed similar viewpoints in his testimonial during the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on Tuesday, declaring that the U.S. must send a message to Syria making it clear “Never Means Never” when it comes to the use of chemical weapons.

For the same reasons, even his greatest foreign policy critics, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, tentatively agreed to Obama’s proposal for use of correctional force.

After an hour-long meeting with Obama in the White House, McCain told reporters waiting outside that a congressional rejection of Obama’s request would be “catastrophic in its consequences.”

Though Obama had said that he was “confident that we’re going to be able to come up with something that hits the mark,” things are still unstable in Congress as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee members have yet to choose sides.

“I’m not ready to count votes,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who also serves on the committee. “There are a few – I expect a number of them to have some questions. Let’s see if they feel the same way after the resolution is debated and amended.” 

The Huffington Post reports John McCain believes many committee members’ votes were still “up for grabs.”

Despite claims of credibility, some experts are calling foul.

BBC reports that most of the evidence claiming the Syrian government was behind the chemical attacks were "circumstantial" at best and places an uncomfortbably heavy weight on what John Kerry called "common sense."

Noam Chomsky, a renowned political scientist and activist, wrote in a letter to the Huffington Post:

“As international support for Obama’s decision to attack Syria has collapsed, along with the credibility of government claims, the administration has fallen back on a standard pretext for war crimes when all else fails: the credibility of the threats of the self-designated policeman of the world.”

Reach Executive Producer Benjamin Li here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.