By Becky Hogan
News that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons last week to kill an estimated 1,300 civilians has been dominating news coverage since last week. And just like that the violence in Egypt is talking second fiddle to the crisis in Syria as–both in the TrendPo Rankings and in current US foreign policy priorities. The ensuing debate is over whether the United States should intervene militarily in Syria has drawn a varied response from Democrats and the GOP.
The issue is undoubtedly a complicated one. President Obama called the use of large-scale chemical weapons in Syria a “red line” last year, and many believe that US military action in Syria is critical to signal that the US is serious that chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction cannot be used in Syria or elsewhere.
We’re recapping who’s saying what on Syria.
On Monday Secretary of State spoke out against the Syrian attack, calling is a moral obscenity.
“Make no mistake,” Kerry said. “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapon against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.”
Vice President Joe Biden reinforced Kerry’s statements yesterday saying that there’s “no doubt” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack last week outside Damascus.
“There is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons, the Syrian regime … Chemical weapons have been used. Everyone acknowledges their use. No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.”
Russia has pushed back saying there is no evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack has taken place in Syria or who is responsible.
In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke on a phone call Monday. Of the phone conversation, British government spokesman said, “President Putin said that they did not have evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack had taken place or who was responsible.”
While Russia’s reaction has gotten a lot of media attention in the past week, Kerry’s comments have dominated national new coverage.
Interestingly, it’s Biden who has been buzzing the most on social media since his statements. Perhaps Biden’s statements attracted more attention because they provided a more definitive statement on the crisis.
Of course, not all Republicans are aligned on this issue. And even some Democrats are against military action in Syria.
Republican Rep. Peter King believes President Barack Obama can take military action against Syria without congressional approval.
“I believe, as commander in chief, he has the right to take this action. It’s in his interest to consult with the leadership in the House and Senate, but I don’t believe he has to.”
King also said that the use of chemical weapons crosses a line and the US has to send a clear signal that such actions are not tolerated.
Republican Rep. Scott Rigell in a letter sent Wednesday to Obama that had been signed so far by 47 Republicans and eight Democrats said this:
“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” he wrote in his letter to Obama.
Rep. Justin Amash joined his Libertarian colleagues in saying, it would be “unquestionably unconstitutional” for the White House to launch a military strike against Syria without congressional approval.
The Michigan congressman used his Twitter account to respond about a potential strike against Syria:
Senator John McCain has been a strong proponent of military action in the region, but says a US strike must have a lasting impact on the region.
“The important part of this whole situation is, is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?” he said.
McCain also pushed for the United States and its allies to provide weapons to “the resistance on the ground.”
Of these Republicans, whose garnering the most buzz in the past week?
On Facebook the response seem to be more unanimous and is showing what national polls are revealing: most Americans are hesitant to get into another war with a Middle Eastern dictatorship. Amash has seen the most gains on Facebook this week and has also been very critical about intervention in Syria.
On Twitter, it’s a different picture. McCain has been a staunch supporter of a military strike on Syria and has seen the most gains on Twitter of the four GOPers. Interestingly, Amash has gained the second most Followers this week–indicating the Twitterverse is torn about the US’s role in Syria.
As the Obama Administration weighs what is likely one of the most important decisions of the second term, we’ll be monitoring the buzz on this issue.