Don’t Hide the Syrian Aid Vote

The vote on whether to arm and train Syrian rebels should be entirely separate from the spending bill to keep the government running.

Comments: 48

  1. Since there are no "moderate" secular forces to support who are no adulterated with Islamic fundamentalist groups the US is set up in an impossible situation. Assad's avowed policy in the war was to destroy the moderates and then depend on international outrage against ISIS and the Noursa Front to swing support towards him, the US is left with Assad as the secular force. The tragic situation in Syria is the religious fanatics against the war criminal tyrant.

  2. Yes, it should be a separate bill. However, as the article says, "The polarization of Congress has made it impossible to do long-term planning or budgeting" Correction - it is not polarization, it is OBSTRUCTION by republican/libertarian/tea party democracy destroyers. November cannot come soon enough when we will send them all home.

  3. I am impressed by the perennial optimists like you, njglea from Seattle. Of course it is OBSTRUCTION but it will last as long as some people (called usually Republicans) exist.

    And they will since democracy requires at least two strong parties.

  4. Lets hope. The voters need to get out there.

  5. You mean - when non leftists/statists oppose something, it is "obstruction" but when leftists/statists block legislation, etc. they are merely exercising their speech rights and democracy?

    and there isn't a single libertarian senator or rep - the Left ought to spend more time figuring out where it might have common ground with true, grassroots, Ron Paul type libertarians, rather than lazily, and stupidly lumping us in with "the right wing."

    Libertarians - still antiwar, pro-constitution, and pro-liberty, even when a "liberal" democrat gets into office to continue Bush's 3rd and 4th terms...

  6. While I agree that the funding of Syrian rebels should be a separate vote, I cringe at the Secretary of State having to provide a "detailed plan" to Congress 15 days prior to any action and updated every 90 days. Journalists will fight to reveal what those plans are, and there will be leaks that reduce the effectiveness of any plan of action. There is always information that really needs to be held closely.

  7. Sorry, Secretary of Defense. Secretary of Anything, for that matter, as we have seen there is nothing secret in this Congress when information is perceived as useful in gaining political advantage.

  8. This is a very good point but so little gets done in congress lately that I'm tempted to lower my standards.

  9. Well, I'm not sure about standards, but I have long since lowered my expectations.

  10. I agree, wars should be completely separate, and Declared first. There should be no funding for any rebels of any kind period. What are we doing? You can clearly see the game is on as the people are being driven by fear to support these half baked operations that have nothing to do with our National security.
    We will all be beheaded apparently if we do not submit to being scared, and helpless. Save me big brother, I am so afraid.

  11. Typical devisive and deceptive political manuver. Break this vote out. Funding the government is imperative. Arming and training "vetted" Syrian freedom fighters is a debateable choice. Further, sending more arms into this region in one thing while supporting air strikes is quite another. These votes should be standalone as well. Knowing where your congressman stands is an important part of democracy. This kind of game they are playing is why part of the reason we are all so cynical. Even in matters as important as this, it breacks down to political tactics. Disgusting and wrong.

  12. Well written and logically argued. Although I myself am AGAINST any more 'adventures' in fear and unmotivated war mongering the principle that the goverment representatives should be counted and held accountable rather than voting anonymously for a war ' on the back of a cigarette packet'.
    Its' strikes me these days that not only is the democratic system not functioning as designed; no spending bills or normal budgets and wars detemined as executive 'police actions', show that 'for the people, by the people and for the people' is no longer a relevant description of the government we have.
    Yet both parties ;who are together responsible for this mess, keep putting off the act of Governing and instead let the executive take all the heat and all the responsibility for their own paralysis.
    Even worse we seem to have moved beyond mere true executive power abuse as it appears that at least in the foreign policy department Obama is no longer in charge. His correct and reasoned earlier caution; has been trumped by those proven wrong, wrong an wrong again. I am refering to the 'war all the time crew'; McCain, the Clintons, Tony Blair and other AIPAC supported politicians as well as the usual warhawk media suspects (Krauthammer) but even more depressingly those usually associated with reason and restraint; the UK Gaurdian and the NYT.
    It seems the war Industry run us these days. A new war is being declared every fortnight these crazy dangerous days!

  13. None of the rebels we have trained and armed have remained our allies for very long----and most have actively fought us using our own weapons at some later date. Nothing good will come of this new war (let's call it what it is). Once again, the only winners will be the beltway bandits, neocon chicken hawks, and military contractors. The genuine interests of all other American citizens will suffer because of these cynical and craven actions by our elected officials.

  14. How blind, deaf, and dumb can anyone be?
    This fake "all dictators must go" has given ISIL the gap to fill.
    Syria is not democratic, but the last secular, not Islamic (or Thora) radicalized state of the Middle East.
    Before, Saddam Hussein became murderous, when Schiite and Kurdish uprisings were initiated - and then, abandoned, left to his rage. BUT now, there are more people dead every year in Iraq than in his entire reign of 22 years - without counting the ISIL victims!
    Ghadafi was no angel, but his coup was bloodless, and not much slaughter etc was seen - he just kept Libya as the only oil country (apart from Iran) that was not US controlled. But Libyans enjoyed in his moderate and modern Islamic state the highest standard of living in Africa and Arabia.
    Both were absolute enemies to Taliban, Al Quaeda, and all radical-Islamists. They should have been allies, but in a great "purge", all sense was forgotten, and the last secular bastions were destroyed.
    Can anyone wonder now, how ISIL came out of nothing to take over 1/3 of Syria and 1/2 of Iraq? No - no one can wonder - because they did not come "out of nothing":
    They were well prepared, trained and armed - they had three years of such preparation - under the nose of CIA and all "agencies" - AND with heir money and weapons (just to hit Assad?)
    IT IS THE SAME AS WITH BIN LADEN: GIVING MONEY AND WEAPONS (and propaganda) TO YOUR WORST ENEMY - AND CRY WHEN HE TURNS THEM AGAINST YOU!
    But Mr. Obama wants to do it again!

  15. Saddem was murderous from the day he took power. He also initiated a war with Iran than led to a million dead. But you are right that there is no understanding of what is going on within Islam and the Arab world.

  16. It's a smart strategy of the administration to let the Congress decide on this "Syrian aid vote" together with other "appropriation bills", ahead of midterm elections. Obama would see it how much support he would get from the lawmakers for his policies in Iraq and Syria.

  17. Agree, NY Times, but let us take the special appropriation one step farther. Let's make it apply to all spending for use of U.S. military forces or military foreign aid anywhere except within our own borders or in international waters. Let it also be a roll call vote so that the public can see how their own House Representative and Senators are voting on such use of their tax money.

  18. Once again, into the lurch goes the valiant 600. The miserable republicans along with some cowardly democrats have once again found a way to make sure that the President does not get what he needs to do something. By tying military aid to the continuing resolution the BLOW HARD,S in the government have found yet another way to try and SHUT DOWN the government.
    One day, soon I hope, many Americans will realize that the tea party people are NOT good Americans. They care not for the well being of their country, they care only about the welfare of themselves.

  19. Shut down the government. What government? Since when did the GOP congress don any governing?

    This is despicable, and the party of NO, no ideas, no responsibility, no backbone to stand up to their own extremists must go. Time to "throw the bums out". All of them. If we the voters fail to exercise our responsibility at the ballot box in just a few weeks, then we deserve what we get.

  20. I completely agree. Add old-fashioned sneakiness to the list of character traits displayed by the essentially dysfunctional congress. Going the amendment route as congress recently did in unanimously (there was one dissent in the Senate) voting more funds for arms to Israel during its recent attack on Gaza is not only cowardly, it is yet another way to undermine our ailing democracy. Like the vote on arms for Israel, this vote, too, has AIPAC's fingerprints all over it. When an extra-legislative organization can dictate policies that American's tax dollars are earmarked for, its power needs to be checked.

  21. I think I remember that during the Eisenhower Administration they managed to pass the Federal Highway bill.

  22. In the near future there needs to be another debate. The ineptitude of the American foreign policy establishment and the spy agencies. The first thing that should be noted is how incompetent the CIA has been for so long. It is perhaps time there be less spying on Americans and more thought to figuring out what is going on in the rest of the world. The endless surprises should not be so frequent.

    The other big issue is the foolishness of promoting democracy everywhere. Democracy is a great goal. It only took the United States about 700 years to achieve democracy going back into the history of England and Western Europe. What is desperately needed in most places of the globe is liberalism and tolerance long before anyone goes to a poll.

  23. I agree. War powers are shared by the Congress and its high time our cowardly Congress take some responsibility and take a stand rather than merely criticizing. I fully support the President's plans to attack ISIL, but it is important that Congress specifically back this effort.
    Kudos, by the way, to Speaker Boehner who has actually taken a stand.

  24. How inconvenient for Congress that important votes must be taken before the midterm elections with still enough time for their opponents to produce campaign commercials. It was so much easier to hold "show" hearings and "show" votes and take vacations (sorry, I meant time with constituents). Our elected members of Congress have gotten caught in a trap of their own making with media appearances ramping up hysteria which forced them to act but not having any actions to take except those they previously blasted as ineffective or dangerous. So much better to hide a controversial vote in short term/stop-gap spending resolutions than than to be willing to be accountable for a vote on military actions that might lead to more military action.

  25. Perhaps we should stop referring to the people elected to the national legislatures as congressmen and women and start referring them as the 535 $174-a-year welfare queens.

    For many years, I resisted the idea of term limits for members of Congress. I have changed my mind and not think it's something we should consider or perhaps just accept the idea that representative government is no longer possible for large nations.

  26. Sure, pour more weapons in...

    Never mind that ISIS has a great deal of US weapons already - some captured from Iraqi troops, but a great deal received directly via the "rat line" through Turkey and Jordan.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

    I'm quite shocked at how immediately and uncritically journalists have accepted the story about ISIS - this ruthless, unstoppable army of foreign jihadis trained by the US to overthrow Assad.

    What happened - did the Dr. Frankensteins at the CIA lose control of ISIS, or is ISIS our new Emmanuel Goldstein, designed to keep the perpetual wars going on behalf of Greater Israel (Oded Yinon plan), the MIC, and the Anglo-American-Zionist Corporate and Banking Empire?

    Why are so few stories about the obvious importance of gas and gas pipelines making it into the corporate MSM? These are not conspiracy theories - the money and strategic importance of energy can hardly be overstated.

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article185028.html

    How can we be so close in time to the deliberate schemes of deliberate lies used to get the U to invade and smash Iraq - then go ahead and fail to consider the possibility that the government is lying about both the enemy and the purpose of the violence it plans.

    Why isn't a broad coalition of countries from the region being assembled to battle and police against "ISIS"?

    Why can the US never find money to pay down the debt, but has billions for elective wars?

  27. Just the threat of the shut-down should prompt voters to vote out all obstructionists. Adding support for Assad, in this hidden fashion, is just plain WRONG. But, this kind of thing is done all the time. There should be speedy legislation that prohibits such add-ons, and pork, from ANY bill. I'm completely sick of these lies. OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, not their representatives. None of us has given express permission or approval of such tactics.

  28. ALL important decisions ought to stand alone and be voted on their own merits instead of tacking them onto other bills. By standing alone, it depoliticizes the process of the votes so that if you are FOR one component, but AGAINST the other, it is clear what you stand for ....AND ALLOWS THE GOVERNMENT TO WORK instead of foundering in gridlock. The gradual acceleration of adding amendments (i.e., vote blocking issues) to bills is one of the major components of our government becoming ineffective. This ploy has been used excessively (and I might mention, more by one specific political party), and has contributed to the growth of obstructionism.

    It is time for our governing machine to start working with optimum efficiency instead of showmanship. It needs to be a vehicle for its citizen's voices instead of a political bus for politicians to feather their beds and guarantee their jobs.

  29. I voted for him twice. I don't wear the Tin Foil Hat. I hate Fox etc. That said. If this is really the direction this country and this POTUS is going I say impeach. This "strategy" is so foolish. If ISIS is so dangerous why haven't we seen the fat lazy Saudi Sheiks head to the front lines? Where is Kuwait? How many ground troops is Kuwait offering? UAE? Qatar? Turkey? None? Shocking! Because they can pay the US puppet to do it for them and the POTUS is foolish enough to go along! We are so freaking foolish it boggles the mind.

  30. Doug, I voted for him twice also. It is early days yet. Patience is a virtue. He has it in spades. Chill for a while.

  31. I would like to know who votes against this bill. Have we not learned that when we arm and train what are considered moderates in middle eastern countries, they in turn gain power and use the weapons and training against their own people, and eventually against us as in Afganistan? I prefer peace to war and was in a minority that argued against Bush going into Iraq; but if ISIS is a threat to us, then we should be the ones to remove them rather than playing these games in order to avoid calling it war.

  32. There is ISIS, and other terrorists groups threatening people around the world. However, they are a small number and can be defeated.
    We have a much more serious terrorists problem-our Congress and the ideologies that are out to destroy our government at any cost.
    The most astounding thing is the accusation that Obama is a dictator because he acts when they don't and then they beg him to make his own decisions about Iraq and Syria.

  33. It is high time indeed that our congress behave as an actual governing body and stand up to their responsibilities. Unfortunately the reality is that we have a do nothing congress run by the GOP aka "party of NO" aka "party of NOTHING.
    So, who really holds the responsibility for the in-actions of congress? I am sorry as I too need to look in the mirror. Congress supposedly represents the people. If our vote in November allows this to continue then we are the fools, and deserve what we get.

  34. I agree that we need to force the Democrats in the Senate to vote for or against the President's request for funding to train the Syrian rebels. I agree that we need the Senate Democrats to go on the record and vote for or against the President's request.

  35. And not the Republicans?
    Please explain.

  36. Yes, Tony, let's see where every member of Congress stands, and may they all face their constituents once they have taken a position.

    There seems to be a presumption that it's only republicans that are too cowardly to vote. It is not they who face their progressive anti-war constituents who are still waiting to punish Hillary for her vote on Iraq.

  37. Our President is doing everything in his power to bring other countries into a coalition to fight ISIS, which I certainly support. Step one is to convince those countries that they need to step up and provide troops in their own region, because the US will not do that. So enter Lindsay Graham, who insists we do need to provide troops, insists on criticizing the President at each step and weakens the message the President is sending to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others every time he opens his mouth. This is why back when (until 2002) there was an unwritten law of supporting the President in times of crisis beyond the border. Senator Graham, please shut up before you do even more damage.

  38. In my darker moods of pensive thought I believe that the American citizen deserves the Congressional House of Representatives that it gets. A combination of extremely fixable problems requires our representatives to place re-election to office the primary concern when doing their sworn duties. Public benefit, rules of fairness and propriety are secondary concerns. By hiding the vote on aid to Syrian rebeis in an appropriations bill, the House republican leadership is giving safe -haven to their candidates. A vote to give aid is a vote to temporarily finance our government. A vote to the contrary, shuts government down. This makes "SophiesChoice" akin to picking the yellow or red "M&M". These political leaders consistently depend on the apathy of the American voter. They will dress their well reasoned arguments in patriotism and party rhetoric. They will bellow polarizing propaganda and pepper each statement wit the buzz words developed by their communication wizards at party central. The Republican base, along with fellow disillusioned voters will watch the "left" hand, while the "right" hand is carrying forth their true agenda. Come November, these same political chameleons will be re-elected to office and the "paper"chase will begin again. Until the American voter puts as much intellectual energy into their political choices as they do with the draft choices for fantasy sports teams, the cycle will never be broken.

  39. September 16 2014

    The veil of polling the good congress gentlemen and ladies in journalistic nuance does infer that in the nature of its composition there is less the covert and more the cloaking the individual narratives - that are just to complex for these folks, But today's Editorial does speak to the call for ultimately passing the appropriations bills to give the support to voice of civility and moderation - and that's unanimous by our great nation, with forty given to sign on board by the rational of knowing how to keep our heads working for the times and the depth of reporting with intention towards Nov election. But for now the President's foreign is apparent and will be his assertion of his leadership and for the Democrats in 2015. By the way this wars in Islam were expected by high school history - and their unwilling to find political in the sharing in the modern interconnected global media will find that their cause has created the obvious turning away from the grace that Islam deserves but is reluctant and hiding its deeper wounds of the ancient angst - that will sooner or later dissipate - just like the Cold War era - and the we can really learn the heuristics exegesis in the faith of Mecca.
    jja

  40. I wonder why the editorial board is supporting the GOP bill about arming "moderate" Syrian rebels and how you are going to account for all the weaponry sent is fantasy thinking at its worse. This is a real war zone, stuff is lost, think Iraq and Afghanistan, with all these folks fighting with our leftovers from the recent Iraq "war." This will just be a hot mess.

  41. C. Gernant , for 3 years, the US have resisted arming the Syrian moderate rebels. Look what happened ... prolonged war, the moderates become extremists . Assad has to go . A lot of Sunnis from around the world have become extremists because of Assad.

  42. So, this time around the Times is asking questions. Have you found any Cheney like lies? Has the CIA obfuscated? This President is doing it right without salting the mine.

  43. Whatever weapons and "training" we invest in over there will eventually be used against us, sure as the sun rises in the east.

  44. A bad idea on both sides. What is needed is a stand alone bill that asks Congress to agree to and fund the Administration's strategy on how to fight ISIS.

    Since the plan, its scope, and purpose appear to be changing daily/hourly depending on which official most recently talks about it, the vote should be on the most recent recital at the time of the vote.

    The vote must take place before the November mid-term election. Then any member of Congress who votes to put our funds/troops/hopes in the hands of a coalition, none of whom will put a single troop on the ground even though many of them live there, should be voted out of office

  45. All we really need to do is quell one regional disaster, ISIS, the one that rightly concerns us, to create the space for another regional disaster, for a better kind of war, the wars we all want to see, the wars they all so richly deserve. People of the world, will you join us in this?

  46. Of course, the people should have an idea of what the US government is officially spending on its adventures (at the behest of Big Oil) in the Middle East. However, the true picture cannot be painted until we know how much money being spent is from off the books, from the so-called black budget, which is by far and away the largest chunk of the total money we are spending. Sadly, our government considers this information a national security secret - the terrorists will win if they know how much we are paying the mercenaries to kill them.

    It is important for the people to have this information, because they need to know why they are driving on third world roads with no street lamps to schools and hospitals which would be an embarrassment to any respecting Super Power.

  47. We need this vote to be clear and open so the voters can know who to punish for getting us into another pointless and needless Middle Eastern war. Iraq 3 we don't need and this close to November we can all easily remember who voted to turn our children into bullet magnets for the industrial war machine.

  48. This vote depends on the quality of American intelligence. Along with the ability of our legislators to effectively engage in their oversight role with some skepticism and curiosity. The media also has a key role.

    America armed and trained the men who would lead al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Northern Alliance and the Haqqani Network.

    America failed to detect and thwart the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    The past history of Congressional informed quality evaluation of war and rumor of war by the executive is very discouraging.

    Congress is supposed to take the lead on deciding upon taking the nation to war. But the executive branch has ignored this Constitutional scheme without the advice and consent and objection of Congress.