However, it’s important to draw a distinction between the current administration, which has clearly been reluctant to use force in Syria and has even cited repeated excuses for refusing to do so, and the previous administration, which was just as determined to make war and concocted excuses to justify it. Two different world views are at work here; one chooses force reluctantly, one did so eagerly. That distinction is important.
Three other points bear noting:
— It was troubling to see Secretary of State John Kerry, in a conference call to House Democrats over the weekend, describe the pending vote as “a Munich moment.” Assad is not Hitler and Syria is not Nazi Germany, and the attempt to equate those with doubts about Syria intervention with the likes of Neville Chamberlain is an act of intellectual bullying. The comparison is trotted out every time such questions are being decided, and it is hackneyed and dangerous and ought to be retired.
— Likewise, the coming debate and the likely closeness of the vote expose the foolishness of Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others who have campaigned for a much more aggressive military posture toward Syria. There is very little support for such an approach in Congress or among the American people, and without such support no such effort should ever be launched. Whatever the outcome of the coming vote, the mere fact that it will take place should serve as a precedent and make it more difficult in the future for those inclined to choose war too easily. That’s a good thing.
— Finally, reports out of Washington suggest that the Syria resolution will be filibustered, which in practical terms means it will have to draw a minimum of 60 votes to pass the Senate. Whatever side you take on the intervention question, this is not a matter of passing legislation or confirming a judge or federal official. It is Congress acting on a grave constitutional duty, and a filibuster that attempts to block the Senate from even getting to vote on the matter is deeply inappropriate.