Over the past few weeks, the Obama Administration has been devising a plan to take military action against the terrorist organization, ISIS. Public support for going back into another military campaign was low. That was until the beheading of two American journalists which was posted on video online. Still, President Obama, while vowing to take action to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, has stayed strong to his claim that he will not commit US troops to ground combat operations.
While most Americans and members of Congress support the president’s plan, anti-war voices remain particularly throughout the halls of Congress. We often don’t hear about their points of views because the media often only airs the voices of the war hawks of the government such as Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham. We even saw today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State, John Kerry making the case to go to war.
But let’s look at two members of Congress who are making a little bit of the news for their opposition to all or parts of the newest military conflict. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), has always been known for her anti-war stances, as a representative of the liberal cities of Oakland and Berkeley, California. Lee voted against the war in Iraq, approved by Congress in 2002. She was also the lone “No” vote for the war in Afghanistan even after 9/11. She argues that her “No” votes were cast because she is concerned about supporting blank checks for wars, citing that President Obama is still using the 2002 authorization for current problems in the Middle East. She has expressed her disagreement with Obama on his plans against ISIS.
Senator Joe Manchin has made recent headlines for threatening to shut the government down to prevent the President from moving forward. At issue for Manchin is the president’s plan to arm the “moderate” rebels in Syria in hopes that they will be used to defeat ISIS . This part of the plan has raised criticism as there is a concern about the motivation of the Free Syrian Army as they have focused their efforts on defeating President Bashar Assad’s regime. Assad used chemical weapons on the citizens of Syria last year as rebellion forces attempted to overthrow his regime. Senator Manchin voted against today’s House resolution authorizing the President to arm Syrian rebels.
Ironically, the president is drawing most of his support from main stream Republicans. Isolationist libertarians in the Republican party have joined forces with liberal Democrats who also oppose war. Although the House bill passed today, there is bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition to the President’s plan.
In times like these, it is important that we think about how a real democracy works. We don’t hear much about the Barbara Lees who have opposition to blanket authorizations and constant states of war. We don’t hear about the Joe Manchins who may or may not agree with the President but has expressed opposition to one important portion. During times like these, we constantly hear about why we should go to war or how the tide is turning or how it is inevitable. But rarely hear voices as profound or as publicized that disagree with acts of war. I thought CNN’s Reliable Sources did a great job of pointing out the lack of anti-war voices.
What kind of democracy is this where minority voices are always drowned out? We always hastily go to war that we have little interest in without thinking it through. I have admired President Obama in his decision making process, however, am disappointed in the media which has covered this in a way that has made the intensification of the war inevitable. We definitely need a new democracy that actually lives up to its values because we are struggling now.
Washington Post – Joe Manchin to vote against arming and training Syrian rebels