The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

September 4, 2013

War vote on Syria looms for White House hopefuls

WASHINGTON — Backing President Barack Obama’s plea for military action against Syria could haunt Senate Republicans thinking hard about a White House bid in 2016.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a leading anti-interventionist within the GOP ranks, was steadfast in his opposition on Tuesday, saying he was unlikely to back even a narrow resolution giving Obama the authority to respond militarily to the Syrian government.

Paul tangled with Secretary of State John Kerry at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing, repeatedly asking the top diplomat for assurances that U.S. military action wouldn’t hurt Israel or destabilize the region.

A libertarian favorite, Paul also engaged in a fierce debate over the

constitutional power to use military force, and whether Obama would ignore an unfavorable vote in Congress. Kerry sought to reassure Paul that the administration didn’t consider congressional action meaningless.

Paul told Kerry: “If you do not say explicitly that you will abide by this vote, you’re making a joke of us. You’re making us into theater.”

The administration says it has proof that the Assad regime used deadly chemical weapons in an attack on Damascus suburbs and must respond. It places the number killed at 1,429 people, including 426 children. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the death toll at 502.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a vocal critic of Syria’s Bashar Assad and a proponent of arming the rebels, criticized the Obama administration for failing to heed his call and the pleas of others to act two years ago.

“When America ignores these problems, these problems don’t ignore us,” Rubio told senior administration officials at the Senate hearing. “Yes, this is a horrible incident where perhaps a 1,000 people died, but before this incident 100,000 people had died ... and nothing happened.”

The Syria vote is complicated for potential Republican presidential candidates, who hardly want to appear weak on national security but fear the criticism if the United States is drawn into a protracted conflict or limited military steps prove unsuccessful in the 2-year-old civil war.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • FedEx charges raising online pharmacy issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — FedEx Corp., the latest company accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions....

    July 27, 2014

  • EU, U.S. seek to curb Putin’s Ukraine course

    BRUSSELS — Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the United States are still searching for a way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course....

    July 27, 2014

  • Fighting intense near crash

    DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month....

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza war rages despite truce pledges

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas fires rockets on Israel, ending 12-hour lull

    BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Hamas said it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Death shows Ebola can spread through air travel

    ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world’s deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa’s largest city with 21 million people. The fact ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Police ID kids killed in Philly carjacking crash

    PHILADELPHIA — Two carjackers who fled after ramming a stolen SUV into a family selling fruit for their church, killing three young siblings, were still on the run Saturday as the reward for their capture topped $100,000. The children’s ...

    July 27, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Small holes cause big jitters

    SEOUL, South Korea — For the developers of the world’s sixth tallest building near Seoul, a mysteriously shrinking lake and the appearance of small sinkholes in residential neighborhoods couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Secret photo victims must describe trauma for case

    BALTIMORE — Thousands of women whose genitals might have been photographed during gynecological exams can share a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System. But they’ll have to describe their trauma before seeing any money. ...

    July 26, 2014