While her North Dakota colleague, Rep. Kevin Cramer, talks of their constituents being “war weary” Senator Heidi Heitkamp is proposing an alternative to President Obama’s war resolution.
The President is asking for war in Syria because the country used chemical weapons after Obama himself said doing so would have consequences. Now as Secretary of State John Kerry says there is incontrovertible evidence that chemical weapons were used, Senator Heitkamp is cosponsoring (with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin) a resolution that would draw another red line:
The United States would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the wrath of American military might, under a draft resolution being circulated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
The alternative to a use-of-force resolution could forestall an immediate American strike and create an incentive for Assad not to use chemical weapons against his own people again. It may also provide a rallying point for lawmakers who are reluctant to either approve strikes or reject the use of force outright.
This is a line in the sand, and it’s not any different than the previous line drawn by President Obama (the one he’s now claiming, ludicrously, that he didn’t draw).
It’s pretty clear that the push for war from the Obama administration is coming because they didn’t want to look weak the last time Syria crossed a line they drew. Congress drawing another line is hardly sound policy at this point, because Syria will most assuredly cross that line as well.
Senator Heitkamp’s first foray into foreign policy is an inauspicious one. This isn’t policy. This is can kicking – problem avoidance – of the sort Congress has gotten good at recently. Rather than draining the quagmire Syria has become for the US, this would add water.