Last weekend, Buzzfeed featured an article entitled "Syria Splits the Professional Left" about how many of the nation's major progressive groups had not yet decided on a stance on the Syria vote. A few days later, the landscape looks rather different after these groups were able to gauge the opinions of their base.
Both MoveOn and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) surveyed their members about where they stood on the Syria vote, and both found their members overwhelmingly opposed to military intervention.
73% of MoveOn respondents opposed Obama's desired military intervention, as the organization detailed in their latest petition:
Dear MoveOn member,The Progressive Change Campaign Committee found similar sentiments among its members, who opposed bombing Syria 73% to 18%.
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began debating whether to authorize the use of military force in Syria in response to reports of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government.1
Because this is such a big decision, we asked every MoveOn member to weigh in on whether MoveOn should support or oppose the congressional authorization to use military force in Syria.
The results are in, and they are unequivocal:
73% said MoveOn should oppose the congressional Authorization to Use Military Force in Syria.
History has shown again and again that even a "limited" military engagement can quickly become a slippery slope to seemingly endless war. But stopping this war is within reach.
Consistent polling shows that the majority of Americans are opposed to this military intervention, and more than 147 members of Congress are on record as firmly opposed to or leaning against it.2 But mainstream media outlets and many elected officials are trying hard to make us think that strikes are inevitable.3
So we need to unleash the power of our more than 8 million member community right away to make it clear to Congress that we oppose military action in Syria. Congress will vote on the authorization to use military force as soon as next week, and members of Congress are making up their minds right now, so we need to act fast.
Can you call your Senators and Representative right now and tell them to 'Vote No' on the use of military force in Syria? Here are the numbers to call:
Then, please report your calls by clicking here.
MoveOn members across the country have been sharing thousands of reasons for voting to oppose the authorization for the use of military force. Here are a few comments that capture some common themes we're hearing:
"There is no evidence that the use of force by the US will prevent any further attacks in Syria and it may lead to yet another quagmire in the Middle East." -Neema B., San Diego, CA
"Although I am adamantly opposed to chemical warfare, military strikes used as a 'lesson' to change this behavior could kill many innocent people as well—children among them."—Fran S., Houston, TX
''It is very unclear what military force would accomplish other than to insert more violence. It seems this authorization is more political than strategic and will not result in a positive outcome. Enough violence!"—Amir R., South Natick, MA
In the early 2000s, MoveOn members helped lead the charge in opposing the misguided U.S. war on Iraq. Now, just over a decade later, the nation again finds itself positioned to enter a war half-way around the world with a country posing no direct threat to our safety or security and with unknowable consequences for years to come.
President Obama is proposing a military strike that raises the specter of another Iraq War—and we're still dealing with the costs of that war today. It's critical that every one of MoveOn's 8 million members pick up their phones today to let Congress know plain and simple: We oppose a military intervention in Syria.
Can you call your members of Congress right now? When you do, be sure to tell them why it's so important for you that they vote 'No' on an Authorization to Use Military Force in Syria. Here are the numbers to call again:
Then, please report your calls by clicking here.
Thanks for all you do.
–Anna, Mark, Susannah, Linda, and the rest of the team
Here's Adam Green's email:
While our elected officials are divided and undecided about taking military action in Syria, we surveyed PCCC members in every single state and congressional district -- and they’re anything but undecided.PCCC's survey had a total of 57,000 respondents. 73% opposed military action against Syria, with 18% in favor and 9% undecided. 81% thought that a limited bombing campaign would lead to deeper U.S. involvement.
After over 57,000 responses, progressives oppose bombing Syria by 73% to 18%. That is HUGE.
Why do folks feel that way? 81% believe that an initially-limited bombing campaign would lead to deeper involvement. And 80% say, regardless of what our goal is, narrow bombings will NOT achieve it.
Today we're delivering a memo with the survey results to Capitol Hill and the media to make progressive voices heard.
Members of Congress need to hear from people like you -- people who oppose military action -- right now. Click here to call your representatives in Congress and ask them to oppose bombing Syria.
You can also read our full memo to Congress here.
We're getting involved on this issue because it's a huge moment, many Democrats in Congress are undecided, and progressives like us can actually influence the result.
And we'll continue to stay focused on our core issues like expanding Social Security, holding Wall Street accountable, and electing more bold progressives like Elizabeth Warren.
Click here to call your representative to tell them: I don't support bombing Syria.
Thanks for being a bold progressive.
-- Adam Green, PCCC Co-founder
Although PCCC's members differed on what should be the top goal for the U.S. in Syria, 80% thought that Obama's proposed airstrikes would not help to achieve that goal.
When PCCC presented multiple strategic approaches for the U.S. to take, pursuing diplomacy came out on top (38%) followed by pursuing war crimes charges against Assad in the ICC (19%) and humanitarian aid (19%). Only 11% favored airstrikes. (Another 11% said to "do nothing.") [Well, look at that. Most of the anti-bombing crowd isn't suggesting that we "do nothing," as the most strident hawks have pretended.]
Tell Congress: Don't Bomb SyriaAnd here's the exact text they're using:
President Obama has sent a draft resolution authorizing the use of American military force in Syria to Congress. We need to speak out today and tell our senators and members of Congress to say no to military intervention by the U.S.
The brutal and bloody Syrian civil war has already left 100,000 people dead and created millions of refugees. And now chemical weapons have been used, killing hundreds of civilians.
The use of chemical weapons is morally reprehensible, and it should be punished. The International Criminal Court should immediately start war crime tribunals and proceedings against those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And the U.S. can take evidence that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons to the UN Security Council and seek a resolution against Syria. Both acts would make it far more difficult for Russia to continue defending the regime and open the door for international action to broker a ceasefire -- the only way we will stop the massacre of civilians.
Tell your Senators and Representative: Don't bomb Syria.
The justifiable outrage evoked by the use of chemical weapons does not make attacking Syria -- where parts of the rebel resistance are allied with Al Qaeda and the authoritarian response by President Assad is aided by Hezbollah -- either just or strategic.
As heart wrenching as the ongoing civil war has become, the United States should not start dropping bombs. A knee jerk, unilateral attack by the U.S. won’t help civilians -- it will make matters worse. At this point, there are no good options when it comes to military intervention by the United States, and it should be considered only as an effort of last resort, not a first response.
Tell your Senators and Representative: Don't bomb Syria.
As humanitarians confronting the horror of the Syrian civil war, we must consider how we can best protect civilians, end the violence, and uphold the international prohibition on using chemical weapons. But we shouldn't make matters worse on the ground just to answer war crimes with a limited and largely symbolic show of force.
The draft resolution makes it clear that the kind of limited military strike promoted by the Obama administration is highly unlikely to affect the ultimate outcome of this messy and brutal civil war.
And what's more, initiating "limited" hostilities with Syria could serve to pull us deeper into yet another war in the Middle East, with all the ramifications -- moral, humanitarian, economic and geopolitical -- that would entail.
Tell your Senators and Representative: Don't bomb Syria.
There are times when military force is necessary and justifiable. But this isn't one of them.
The time is now to speak out.
To our Senators and members of Congress:USAction/True Majority also came out against the Syria AUMF:
Do not authorize the use of American military force in Syria. With civilians being butchered and refugees suffering immensely, it is horrifying to watch the brutal civil war in Syria unfold. But U.S. military intervention is far more likely to make matters worse, not better. The U.S. should not bomb Syria. The best thing we can do is commit to holding war criminals accountable, expand humanitarian aid for refugees, and maintain constant diplomatic pressure for a negotiated end to the conflict.
Stop the War Before It StartsDemocracy for America (DFA) seems to be the only big progressive group not going all-out against military action. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) And that's not a shock, considering that DFA's founder, Howard Dean, is has been beating the war drums.
Thousands of USAction members demanded that President Obama seek Congressional approval for any military action in Syria. On Saturday he did just that. We thank the President for making the correct, historic decision. But this plan for a broad, unilateral attack on Syria is a mistake and it's up to us to stop it.
The apparent use of chemical weapons to murder civilians is abhorrent and a frightening escalation of an already brutal campaign by the Assad regime. The Syrian civil war is a tragedy that has already claimed more than 100,000 lives on both sides. But if the U.S. starts dropping bombs, it won't end the violence, change the balance of power or even act as a deterrent against the Assad regime’s brutal actions.1
The American public is opposed to military action and bombing Syria could lead to deeper military engagement down the road.2 We can't let this happen - click here to send a message to your Representative and Senators telling them to OPPOSE the use of military force in Syria.
President Obama and many leaders are rightly outraged at the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And progressives of good conscience have considered the situation and risks involved and decided to support military action. But we believe that such action creates numerous risks of escalating the conflict, leading to more civilian deaths, possible widening of the conflict outside of Syria and it may not even deter Assad or others from using chemical weapons in the future.
We also agree with this warning from Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that once "you start a war, nobody's going to tell you that you can limit [it]. Once you get in, all these resolutions mean nothing."3
Diplomatic options are FAR from exhausted and we should aggressively pursue alternatives, build international support and expand humanitarian aid. Wading into a civil war without support from the United Nations and allies is a mistake. That's why Britain, Germany and other nations - even ones that backed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - have said they can't support Obama's plan.4
Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force and the full Senate will vote soon followed by a vote in the House. Will you write to your member of Congress right now, today?
We've known for a long time, you can't bomb a country into peace, you can only bomb it to pieces. We saw that in Iraq when despite our overwhelming military might, thousands of U.S. military, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and billions of dollars were lost.
We stopped the Iraq War after years and years of struggle. But this time, we have a chance to stop the Syrian War before it starts. If Congress says no to the President's plan now, we can stop the bombs, and give diplomatic options a chance to work. But we need to send them a message FAST. Will you write to your member of Congress right now, today?
USAction / TrueMajority
1 - "The Case Against Military Intervention in Syria," the Nation, September 16, 2013
2 - "The American Public's Views on U.S. Military Intervention in Syria," August 31, 2013
3 - "Pelosi urging more Dem input on Syria," The Hill, September 4, 2013
4 - "Applying the 8 Questions of the Powell Doctrine to Syria," Foreign Policy, September 3, 2013
Here's the email they sent on August 31st:
I don't need to tell you that the situation in Syria is serious -- President Obama's address today made it clear that military action could come any day now. How we handle this as a community is important. Over the last week, I've been hearing opinions, thoughts and ideas from DFA members nationwide. Your feedback has been helpful and informative. Thank you.The latest email from DFA manifested a similar sentiment--a reluctance to directly oppose military action (because of the founders) but an acknowledgement that their base has very deep skepticism:
Democracy for America is member driven. We respond to your passions. We hear your ideas. We work to understand your goals. And then, as a team, working with you, we provide the leadership to direct our activism as a community into an effective unified voice. But sometimes it's not that simple. This is one of those times.
Here's a sampling of the diversity of opinions expressed by DFA members:
Judith M. in Arkansas: "Bombing Syria will result in more deaths and destruction. This does not get rid of chemical weapons or stop the civil war. Negotiating for a cease fire and a peace plan will benefit the Syrian people, the surrounding countries and the US."
Fran K. in Washington: "How can bombing help? I see no way it can help. Yes, we need to mobilize to send a strong message that chemical warfare is anathema. So let's figure out all the ways we can do that without killing even more civilians. If we bomb, the U.S. becomes the enemy in what is a totally no-win situation."
Josh W. in New York: "Though I was against the Iraq war and generally consider myself a pacifist, there are times when those with the resources and capability to act against a real and current atrocity that continues unrelenting must do so. The use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime as a means of mass extermination of civilians should be repugnant to all civilized peoples."
Barbara F.in Ohio: "I realize that Syria is in an awful and dangerous civil war, but there are people opposing Assad who understand democracy while many others don't. We should be supporting those who do. Boots on the ground would be a bad mistake, but use of poison gas is a violation of international norms of war and ought not be countenanced."
Peter C. in New Mexico: "I would support intervention only if it is done by a broad, international entity like the UN or at least a coalition which includes Arab countries. It should also be done with adequate input from our Senate and Congress."
Thoughts are still coming in, but after our team reviewed responses from over 40,000 DFA members -- including you -- only one thing was clear. We are not united as a community. And if we tried to call for one united action in response, we'd be dividing our members -- instead of uniting behind them.
So we're going to offer something different than we normally do. Instead of advocating one course of action over another, I want to provide you with the resources to choose your own action based off of the three most common themes repeated throughout the responses. Here's the plan:
Tell Congress not to use military force;
President Obama stated today he'd be seeking Congressional approval and input on military action in Syria. A majority of members that responded oppose using military force, but the written out comments included dozens of caveats and special circumstances that offered a significantly more nuanced view then a simple yes, no or not sure provided. If you oppose using military force then there is no time to wait and have your voice be heard. Contact your member of Congress right now and make sure they hear your opposition immediately.
Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and leave a voicemail for your Representative to hear first thing Monday morning.
Help support the efforts to protect civilians and treat victims of the conflict;
Reports claim at least 100,000 people have died so far. No matter what happens in the next few days, the sad fact is this toll will likely rise. Please consider making a donation to an organization providing humanitarian efforts on the ground. Two organizations to consider are Oxfam America and Doctors Without Borders.
Put your own idea for action in the hands of our members;
We're led by you. Create your own action by starting a petition on YouPower, our member generated campaign platform. It's easy to start your own campaign and if your campaigns takes off, we'll help you share it with more and more members as your support grows.
Start your own DFA petition letting your member of Congress know where you stand.
Thank you for your leadership. I am honored to be a part of our dynamic and diverse progressive community.
President Obama has asked Congress to vote to authorize military action in Syria. It's a huge responsibility and a decision which will have far-reaching consequences. Too many times in the past, members of Congress have helped the U.S. rush into war without carefully weighing all the options and asking the necessary questions:Let me know if I left anything out. And please do sign the petitions linked above or call your senators and representatives in Congress.
What is the exit plan? Will this save civilian lives? How do we define victory?
These questions and more need answers before Congress votes. But war hawks in Washington don't want questions answered and it's alarmingly clear that some in Congress are failing to take their responsibilities seriously. Just the other day, Senator McCain got caught playing poker on his phone instead of participating in a hearing. Yet, not everyone in Congress is acting like John McCain. Some progressives are standing up and demanding answers. We need to back them up and do everything we can to keep us from making the same mistakes that led to the war in Iraq.
As a progressive community, we recognize the importance of carefully considering the use of military force. It's up to us to make sure Congress demands a clear plan from this administration, and that they fully consider the implications of what military action could mean. We cannot afford another ill-conceived war in the Middle East.
Vote on prepared questions or enter in your own. We'll deliver all your questions to Congress before they vote next week. Together, we'll demand they get the answers the American public deserves.
Urge your congressperson to ask the necessary questions and get all the facts on Syria.
Thank you for your leadership,
Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director
Democracy for America