Congress to decide U.S. force in Syria

Written by: 
Tucker Grimshaw & AP~Multimedia Journalist

As the conflicts in Syria have intensified over the past few weeks, BYU-Hawaii students have discussed the United States and President Barack Obama’s dealings in foreign policy.

Reid Crickmore, a senior in HTM from California, said, “This ordeal in Syria has once again shown our President’s weakness in international relations. This was a huge blow to our country in the view of the entire world.”

Marathon negotiations between U.S. and Russian diplomats at a Geneva hotel, on Saturday, Sept. 14, produced a sweeping agreement that will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history.

After days of intense day-and-night negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their teams, the two powers announced they had a framework for ridding the world of Syria’s chemicals weapons.

America says Assad used them in an Aug. 21 attack on the outskirts of Damascus killing more than 1,400 civilians. That prompted President Barack Obama to ready American airstrikes on his order — until he decided to ask for authorization from the U.S. Congress. Then came the Russian proposal, and Obama asked Congress, already largely opposed to military intervention, to delay a vote.

The United States and Russia are giving Syria until Sept. 21 to submit “a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”

In a 16-minute speech, held on Tuesday Sept. 10, President Barack Obama repeatedly offered reassurances that even the failure of diplomacy — in promised talks at the United Nations or elsewhere — would not plunge America into another war.

The speech capped a frenzied 10-day stretch that began when he unexpectedly announced he was stepping back from a threatened military strike. Instead, President Obama is asking Congress to first pass legislation authorizing the use of such force against Assad.

Student Landon Southwick, a senior in business from Utah, said, “I think there needs to be a change made. I don’t think that it’s the right way to go about it. If they continue to kill their own people, military force could be used.”