Iraq no, Syria yes

Somewhere in Syria, not long ago, a 6-year-old girl woke up one morning, cradling her doll, smiling toward the sun, kissing her loving mom and dad as a new day began.

Several hours later she heard a strange sound, and within seconds she felt a sharp pain and gripped her throat. She began shaking uncontrollably. She desperately tried to breathe, but couldn’t. She fell to the floor, her entire body was trembling from a violent seizure. Pain was exploding from inside her head from headaches more horrible than anything that she had ever experienced.

Lying on the ground, this child was in shock and could no longer speak. She thought: What’s happening to me? Mommy? Daddy? What’s happening to me? Will somebody help me?

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She vomited again and again. She could no longer move her head, but shifted her eyes and saw her dad was dead. A few feet away she could see her mom still alive, unable to move, gazing at her helplessly with drool pouring out of her mouth while the white of her eyes flashed fear, panic and love.

Seconds later they were dead.

Minutes later there was celebration at Bashar Assad’s military headquarters in Damascus for a job well done by those who walk in the footsteps of Hitler and Adolf Eichmann, who are today rooting for Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and others they believe (correctly) are serving their interests in Washington.

Let me answer to the defamation of Secretary of State John Kerry by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, who called our secretary of State a liar on Wednesday, with this: Putin must decide whether his Russia is the nation that first allied itself with Hitler and his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, or the nation that ultimately allied itself with Roosevelt and Churchill.

As to the U.S. response to the mass murder and crimes against humanity committed by the Assad regime, so must we all.

I opposed going to war in Iraq — strongly, clearly and unequivocally — from the moment the military operation was conceived in the hours after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

I support Congress granting President Obama authority for a limited and targeted military attack in Syria — authority that, in my opinion, he does not need and should not have requested — equally strongly, clearly and unequivocally.

Make no mistake: whichever way Congress votes, Congress votes “yes.”

If Congress votes to give the president the authority to initiate targeted military action, Congress will be voting “yes” to hold Syrian dictators accountable for their crimes against humanity.

If Congress denies this authority to the president, it would be voting “yes” to authorize Syrian dictators — and others around the world — to use chemical weapons again, and again, and again, without any fear of sanction.

If Congress were to deny Obama the authority to act in Syria, there would be cheering from hard-liners in Iran. There would be joy from demented rulers in North Korea. There would be laughter from bad actors all around the world who would rejoice in America’s self-castration of its deterrent capability, if the dysfunction in Congress were to inhibit America’s ability to take even limited action against crimes against humanity banned by international law since the 1920s.

Syria is not Iraq. Obama, along with Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, national security adviser Susan Rice and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, is not looking for imperial wars or large-scale or long-term military conflicts. 

Quite the contrary.

As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Congress, it would be a horror for humanity if Syrian butchers were allowed to turn crimes against humanity into regularized daily tactics of warfare while America and the world stand idly by.

I equally applaud Kerry and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for their stance. I stand with pride alongside Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) on this fundamental matter of American security and honor.

These are hard issues, but America is the indispensable nation.

In the name of everything we stand for, no 6-year-old girl should ever be dying in agony and calling for help and hear the dead sound of silence from the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.