Obama: Syria Is “Not Another Iraq or Afghanistan”

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 7 2013 2:17 PM

Obama: Syria “Would Not Be Another Iraq or Afghanistan”

On the eve of a critical week in which he will have to face a skeptical Congress (and country) and make his case for a military strike against Syria, President Obama used his weekly address to lay out why he thinks action is necessary. “Almost three weeks ago in Syria, more than 1,000 innocent people—including hundreds of children—were murdered in the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century,” Obama says at the beginning of his address. This wasn’t just “a direct attack on human dignity” but also presents “a serious threat to our national security,” according to Obama.

In an effort to assuage fears from a public that appears to oppose a military strike, the president emphasizes that “what we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention,” emphasizing that “this would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan.” Any action the United States takes “would be limited, both in time and scope,” adds Obama.

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The White House will launch an intense lobbying blitz over the next few days before Obama is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday to make his case for military action, notes the Associated Press. The Senate is expected to hold its first vote on Wednesday with a final one in the full chamber likely by the end of the week. The House is likely to vote the week of Sept. 16. Democrats face a difficult choice over the coming days, knowing full well that failing to stand with the president on Syria would weaken him for other battles down the road, points out the Hill.

Obama lost the support of a Democratic senator Saturday, when Sen. Mark Pryor said he was opposed to a military strike in Syria “at this time.” Pryor is one of the most vulnerable senators to face reelection next year, notes the Wall Street Journal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday he expected the Senate to approve the resolution authorizing a military strike. It seems some Democrats may vote to cut off debate, which takes 60 votes, but then oppose the resolution itself.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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