The hosts of the nation’s leading political talk shows pressed Secretary of State John Kerry on the administration’s decision to seek Congressional authorization for a military strike against Syria, arguing that delaying military action undermined America’s resolve and weakened President Obama.
Though Kerry, who appeared on all five political programs, insisted that Obama’s decision would allow for the proper constitutional process and permit the administration “time to reach out to allies, friends around the world, build support on an international basis,” the hosts appeared to dismiss any need for Congressional deliberations or public debate about the administration’s evidence or the potential consequences of a military attack. NBC’s David Gregory, Fox’s Chris Wallace, CBS’s Major Garrett, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, and CNN’s Gloria Borger went beyond inquiring about the political timing of Obama’s decision to consult with Congress on Saturday. They repeatedly claimed that Obama’s decision to hold off on immediate military action emboldened America’s adversaries and undermined the nation’s “credibility”:
— GREGORY: “Do you feel undermined, do you think the United States has undermined its leverage in the world, its credibility having ramped up the specter of military action as being imminent and then saying, now we’re going to go to Congress first?”
— WALLACE: “He’s going to wait nine days for Congress to come back before he takes any action, and then he goes off an plays golf? … Haven’t you handed Syria and Iran at least a temporary victory?”
— BORGER: “But if Congress was to vote no and then the president was to strike, wouldn’t that set up a Constitutional crisis?”
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Despite the media’s cheerleading for a swift military campaign, the American people — weary from two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are “split at best on the wisdom of military action against Syria, even to respond to the use of chemical weapons” and more than 200 lawmakers have “raised reservations that range for whether the attacks would be successful, to whether they would draw the U.S. into a broader war.”
Should Obama launch a military campaign in Syria, it would be the first time in three decades that the United States attacks a foreign nation “without mustering broad international support or acting in direct defense of Americans.”
Military analysts have also warned that limited strikes have historically failed to deter tyrannical leaders and say that narrow action in Syria may not “change the balance of power in Syria’s civil war or bring about President Obama’s stated goal of regime change.” But for many in the media, the debate is not whether the United States should take military action, but rather why it hasn’t already begun its campaign.