Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ground May be Shifting on Syria in Congress

White House officials may be in agreement on the question of military intervention in Syria -- they're against it, for now -- but there is no such consensus on Capitol Hill.

The split between the hawks, led by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, and skeptics like Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, has been evident for months. But now some of those in the middle, who have mostly kept their heads down up to this point, are starting to stir. And in the wake of the Houla massacre over the weekend, they are suggesting that a more proactive U.S. stance may be necessary.

Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the most prominent voice to publicly muse about future intervention in Syria, which he says will have to be led by Turkey. Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democratic moderate from Nebraska, also issued a release this week saying that unless Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad leaves power voluntarily (doubtful), "military intervention is inevitable.”

It will be interesting to see, when both chambers are back at work next week, whether this indicates the start of a groundswell amongst the plurality of members who have staid on the fence on Syria up until now.

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