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A general view shows buildings damaged by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the besieged area of Homs September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy
More of this should solve everything.
So President Barack Obama wants Congress to co-own his Syria policy of sending a message, but not too much of a message.

Some are suggesting that this is a good move—it takes Syria out of the 2014 election debate. I don't think it's that clear. Given that solid majorities of Americans oppose any attacks, a pro-Syrian intervention vote will open up a good line of attack for challengers from both the Left and the teabagging Right. It's clear the public appetite for war is low.

But politics aside, the policy of the matter remains as hopelessly wrong as always. It's never good when a Secretary of State goes Godwin (and stupidly so), smacking of hysteria and desperation. It's like the old legal adage: If you've got the facts, pound the facts. If you've got the law, pound the law. If you've got neither, pound the table. Right now, the administration doesn't have the facts (no theory of how action will improve the situation in Syria beyond "sending a message"), it doesn't have the law (no UN authorization), so it's pounding the table. And it's unseemly.

And if the vote fails?

FWIW, since we launched our Syria whip list, a lot more staffers asking that their boss be moved toward 'no' than 'yes.'
Both House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi support the use of force, but publicly claim they won't whip the votes. Smart politics on their part: if the vote fails, it's on Obama, not them. As it should be. It's Obama who painted himself into his corner. Congress has its own set of problems. This isn't one of them.

Look, no one disagrees that Assad is a tyrant and a monster, and that's irrelevant to whether he actually gassed his own people or not. You don't preside over the kind of wanton death and destruction Syria has seen over the past several years with clean hands.

The issue here is whether the use of American force can improve a bad situation. And until someone makes an argument that rises above "Assad is HITLER!," or "we must do SOMETHING!," fact is that engaging in Syria is a bad call. And so far, all we're seeing is a lot of table pounding.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 12:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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