In an interview with Time, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that she doesn’t know if a majority of House Democrats will support President Barack Obama’s rush to war with Syria.
“I don’t know. I think it would be important to get a majority in the Congress,” said Pelosi in response to a question about support in the Democratic caucus for military strikes against Syria. “But I don’t know if it’s important how you would break it down. These issues are not really partisan.”
Typical Pelosi — always trying to play down an issue that could hurt public perception of President Obama. She also told Time that she doesn’t believe that the White House had to come to Congress for authorization of force in Syria, though she said, “I think that it is great that he asked for it.”
Pelosi knocked criticism that Syria could be President Obama’s Iraq. She said that the intelligence the Bush Administration presented to Congress didn’t prove that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a threat and repeated the administration’s claim that the strikes in Syria would be limited.
“I was a senior Democrat on the Intelligence committee, and was one who received all of the documents—by law, they must show us what the documentation is. The evidence did not support the threat,” she said. “The intelligence this time does support the facts: that the Bashar Assad regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack on [his] own people.”
“What the Bush administration was asking the country to do on the basis of a false premise was to go to war. This isn’t about going to war,” she added. “This is about a limited, tailored strike, of short duration, for a purpose, which is the use of weapons of mass destruction.”
Here’s the thing; Pelosi is right that the Bush Administration convinced Congress to go to war against Iraq based on a false premise. The intelligence was cherry-picked and/or out of date, but Congress, including many Democrats, went along with it anyway.
But the intelligence that the Obama Administration has presented this time around isn’t conclusive. Yes, we know that chemical weapons were released in Syria, but who ordered the attack? What about the reports earlier this year of the United Nations accusing Syrian rebels — those fighting against Assad — of using chemical weapons?
Though we know Iraq didn’t possess WMDs and wasn’t a threat to the United States, how exactly is Assad’s regime in Syria any different? Where is the clear and present danger there?
And while the White House and Pelosi insist that the strike will be limited, the Middle East is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Former CIA Director Michael Mullen noted earlier this week that the Obama Administration simply cannot promise that American troops won’t eventually be on the ground in Syria.
These are just some of the questions and points that President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Democrats in the House haven’t answered. Kerry practically acknowledged a scenario that would require further involvement in Syria.
Syria is no different from Iraq. During the run up to the Iraq War, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell warned other members of the Bush Administration that “you break it, you buy it,” referring to how badly the situation could and eventually did go. It’s a warning that the President Obama and members of both parties in Congress should heed with Syria.