Syria crisis: Senate resolution like Goldilocks' porridge

John Kerry testifies before Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 4 September 2013 The committee voted for military action in Syria after hearing testimony from US Secretary of State John Kerry

The United States is a little further down the road towards action in Syria.

We cannot call it war, because Secretary of State John Kerry says it is not.

The Senate foreign relations committee has voted to authorise military action, by 10 votes to seven with one abstention.

If the committee mirrors its colleagues, President Barack Obama would win a narrow victory next week. But they may not be typical. It looks like it will be close.

The motion is a curious hybrid, which underscores the president's difficulty in selling his intended action. Like the porridge of the Goldilocks fairy tale, it can neither be too hot nor too cold, but just right.

The original motion was crafted to reassure those who are worried about an attack on Syria developing into something else. It limits action to an initial 60 days. It forbids combat troops on the ground.

But Senator John McCain, the doyen of hawkish use of American power, has long been worried that President Obama has done too little and has not set out how his "shot across the bows" could make a real difference in Syria.

He thinks the US should not just declare Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should go, but act to encourage that outcome.

So he added in words that stress that policy is to "reverse momentum on the battlefield", degrade President Assad's capabilities, and help the opposition, including giving them weapons.

I am not certain if, in the terms of the motion, this would only be for a couple of months.

But what senators will vote on does seem to both tie the president's hands and beef up the aims of America's action.

It could provide something for everyone. Or it could please nobody.

It is very hard to predict the outcome next week.

An ABC/BBC straw poll found that out of the 100 senators, 57 told us they had not made up their minds. Of those who talked and had made up their minds, the majority for action was 21 to 13.

That level of uncertainty should make the White House very nervous - and very active - in the next few days.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    #404 Marie

    -- He has been opposed for the last few days (internet)

    Here is confirmation only.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    #401 MH

    "I doubt it. The man's a buffoon. How did he get his job?"

    --admitted that his being against the Vietnam War --was a period of insanity.

    --It is reported that the most important part of his Vietnam decoration ..he did not throw it onto the heap which other Viet. Veterans did in protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Excellent Argument by ALAN GRAYSON (Democrat Florida) on PBS NewsHour just now. THANK YOU for thinking about and speaking for the US people - what the majority has been saying all over these blogs.

    Don't know if it's published yet. Worth finding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    398 I won't much.As Frank Purdue used to say,"It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken."I'll stick with brands like Purdue and Tyson.I'm sure they'll put big labels on them saying "Bred and Raised in the USA." Chinese chickens will probably be used in places like prisons, mental hospitals and other institutions.

    Rather than see Syria as risk, I see it as opportunity...for a shot at Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    It appears that most of the G-20 countries are not in favor of an American attack. Obama came ca. 1hr late for the meal --rather ´in the huff´ it seems.

    Other UK and US problems --on the horizon

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    397 Arik

    "We cannot call it war, because Secretary of State John Kerry says it is not." I hope this is ironic...

    I doubt it. The man's a buffoon. How did he get his job?

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    344 chrisstan

    "we tried that printing as much as we needed option - didn't work too well"

    Max Keiser on RT tonight said 'quantitative easing' had led to the complete distortion of money markets. The dollar is being replaced by gold as a global currency having lost its prestige

    Arrogance and hubris - the downfall of nations

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    It was a 10 to 7 vote by a US Senate committee for military intervention. The vote in the full Senate and the House are not there by wide margins and the opposition is quite stout. Moreover details just released of what the strike would entail prove it will not be limited as Obama says but very massive. Moreover ABC has shown new photos of rebels executing tied up Syrian soldiers an atrocity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    No one wants World War III except Obama and al Qaeda

    Just tonight on news they showed rebels executing Syrian soldiers in cold blood

    News left out the Chinese chicken being imported to USA
    b/c the news agencies know there would be a larger outcry about that than Syria

    Who cares about Syria when USDA just approved chicken from China
    that won't be labeled as Chinese?

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    "We cannot call it war, because Secretary of State John Kerry says it is not." I hope this is ironic...

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    389 Curt Carpenter

    “The right policy then, if a UN mandate is the only legal path to a response, is to wait for that last threshold to be crossed.”

    With that said, I suppose if you wait long enough you’ll reach a threshold where the problem will eventually solve itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    Bonuses are paid for hitting targets
    Cameron and Obama are missing
    we're talking credibility and jobs on line missing
    when you lose respect for leadership
    you are talking real revolution
    Cameron and Obama are fighting for lives
    but you can kiss them goodbye
    they were both lame as well as lame ducks

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    As an American, I am more upset about the USDA approving American and Canadian chicken being processed in China then being shipped back to us
    than I am about Syria

    Worst of all, the chicken does not have to be labeled as processed in China

    Not only that USDA just said they want to decrease chicken inspections

    Chicken imported from China is a much bigger issue here than Syria

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    387 - I don't believe I mentioned the BBC in my reply

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    ref #346 and 347
    You two and Margaret would increase your knowledge 10 fold if youwatch Fox News
    Sometimes watch it to get a different spin on things..but often find it difficult to resist the urge to hurl abuse at the mind-boggling blatant OTT propaganda spewing out of the TV :-)
    Having said that, it's not the only news to have that effect!

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    In my opinion it is crucial to put pressure to all sides to start talks and peace process without preconditions and fast. (More about this e.g in: "Syrian Rebels Admit Chemical Attack In Damascus???" ).

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

    News is released by Pigs slowly & monitored by Pigs systems often misinformation too & official rebuttals prepared for truths revealed

    Wars are ways to feed your minds into war mode, like American war films get Americans all Gung Ho ridiculously like Tea Party WWE wrestling crowds screaming busting veins in heads with a pulmonary embolism

    Don't start crying about world is jealous of NJ mullets

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    The Franco-US threshold for doing something about chemical weapons use in Syria seems to be around 1000 dead civilians.

    I suspect now that the UK threshold is around 10,000.

    The Russian threshold is around 1,000,000.

    The Chinese threshold is around 10,000,000.

    The right policy then, if a UN mandate is the only legal path to a response, is to wait for that last threshold to be crossed. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.


    Well of course they are consistently ahead, they are getting to hear it straight from the people making it up as they go along.

  • rate this

    Comment number 387.

    382Are you telling me BBC always tells the truth?Do you know that for a few moments on Jan 8, 2011 after Gabrielle Giffords was shot, BBC posted on its web site she was dead.But as Mark Twain said of himself, reports of her death were greatly exaggerated.So they tried to scoop the US media and I caught them in "an assumption."US media has been consistently several hours ahead of BBC on this story.


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