As the world waits for a possible international strike against Syria, Defense News yesterday looked at what a US military operation might cost.
Much of the debate in Washington about the Obama administration’s march to war in Syria has centered around the end goal, target list and a president’s war powers under U.S. law.
For the record, the final objective is murky. A commander in chief’s war powers also are murky, and whether Obama is required to get congressional approval depends on whom one asks — and their political party affiliation. The target list is more clear, focusing mostly on Syrian military targets, as detailed Tuesday by the New York Times.
But there’s another question that has received little attention: How much will it cost? The answer: A lot. More
The Obama administration is poised to launch military strikes in Syria “within days,” charging forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in a lethal Aug. 21 attack.
Lawmakers’ reactions have been — predictably — mixed. Intercepts will present key portions of select members’ statements and post them here as the drums of war escalate — yet again — in Washington:
GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio:
Boehner sent a pointed letter to Obama on Wednesday, asking for answers to 14 detailed questions about a potential Syria military operation, and urging the president to make the case to the American people and Congress before making a green-lighting missile strikes.
Democratic Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan:
“This morning, the administration briefed me on the situation in Syria. The administration is proceeding cautiously, consulting with our allies and other countries in the region to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. The president is considering a broad range of options that have been presented by our military leaders.” More
Update 3: 3:07 p.m. Tuesday — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., report they have been briefed by the White House about the situation in Syria and military options under consideration.
Update 2: 3:47 p.m. Monday — John Noonan, a spokesman for the GOP-controlled House Armed Services Committee tweeted this after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated Kerry’s comment about congressional consultations being underway: “@PressSec says White House is “consulting Congress” on Syria. That’s news to us.”
Update 1: 3:39 p.m. Monday — Secretary of State John Kerry said during afternoon remarks that the White House has begun notifying members of Congress of its Syria deliberations.
The 3 a.m. phone call was made famous — infamous? — by the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination fight. But, right now, a major indicator of what President Barack Obama will do about Syria is a conference call he might make very soon. More
Reasonable people can disagree. And sometimes, even in Washington, they manage to reach a compromise. Just not on counterterrorism policies, it seems.
To be sure, U.S. national security policymaking has become just as politicized as any other national policy issue — though somewhere south of health care.
During the George W. Bush era, Democrats often slammed the GOP president and his administration over its counter-al-Qaida policies and operations. When the 2008 election gave the Democrats the White House, the script was flipped, with conservatives panning President Barack Obama’s policies.
While the disputes provide fodder for reporters and political operatives, when one examines what the two sides actually are saying, it often feels like there’s more agreement on substance. (We hear substance still matters in the Twitter era. Sometimes.)
It can feel like the two sides aren’t solely trying to score political points. Rather, it seems they’re just talking past one another. And this makes one wonder how al-Qaida has largely failed to capitalize on Washington’s lack of willingness to communicate with itself. More
A day after the Obama administration offered muted criticisms of the military-led Egyptian government over its bloody crackdown on protestors in Cairo, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham took the White House and Pentagon to task for not acting more forcefully to condemn the violence.
“The interim civilian government and security forces – backed up, unfortunately, by the military – are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them,” the duo wrote in a joint statement on Friday. More
The late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, was only the 31st individual to ever lay in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Now, the World War II hero and former Senate Appropriations Committee chairman is about to join an even more prestigious list. More
It has been a good year for three vocal Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans known as the upper chamber’s “Three Amigos.” But the faction’s leader, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., undoubtedly is having the trio’s best year.
McCain is perhaps as important as he’s ever been in a Senate that seems by the day increasingly divided along party — and ideological — lines. He’s been at the center of battles over immigration reform, gun control, a deal to allow votes on executive branch nominations, and is a key player in budget talks with the White House.
The GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee has been in recent months perhaps the chamber’s most frequent GOP visitor to the White House, where he has huddled for hours with his one-time campaign trail rival, President Obama, for hours about national security and domestic matters. Obama last week asked McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a fellow-GOP Amigo, to travel to Cairo to meet with key players in Egypt’s ongoing political kerfuffle.
The 2008 campaign saw McCain and Obama sparred vicisously at times. And McCain has been one of Obama’s fiercest critics since then, especially on many national security and foreign policy issues. So, given their sudden alliance, One couldn’t blame “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno for asking this of Obama on Monday night: “Is it me, or do I see kind of bromance with you and John McCain?”
After some hearty presidential and audience laughter, Obama replied:
“That’s how a classic romantic comedy goes, right? … Initially you’re not getting along, and then you keep on bumping into each other.” More
The field for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination is slowly beginning to take shape. Just like every other sector of the U.S. economy, the defense sector is wondering which potential candidate would, as budgeteer in chief, be best for business.
There are signs New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is mulling a run, as well as U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. The same is true for the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. And there’s scuttlebutt about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Some defense insiders say establishment Republicans and moderate Democrats from states with big military and defense sector footprints are the defense sector’s best bets.
Tea party Republicans in the U.S. House — most with a zeal for a smaller federal government that spends much less annually — have on several occasions formed a bloc willing to vote in favor of Pentagon budget cuts. Since 2010, these new-age GOP members have joined liberal Democrats in supporting fewer dollars for defense, and late last month did the same to almost kill an amendment that could have severely hindered an NSA anti-terrorism surveillance program.
Senators of the tea party ilk have been a bit more coy, as senators tend to be, about their visions for Pentagon spending if they were to become president.
But a defense-sector CEO who’s paying attention might feel a need to beware of Rand Paul. Several recent comments reveal why. More
Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s legend — well known among veteran lawmakers, staffers and journalists — is growing.
She has for years been known as a no-nonsense legislator who always is willing to crack the whip — and a few heads, if need be — to get things done.
Her still-new role as Senate Appropriations committee chairwoman has given her a more-prominent role in the upper chamber. And that means her brusque, though professional, style has gone mainstream.
In late March, Senate Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told Defense News, that if any senator could help the upper chamber get back to “regular order” on annual spending bills, it’s Mikulski.
“Let me put it this way,” Reed said with a wry grin: “She’s committed to doing that, and she’s somebody that has a strong will.”
To say some senators and staffers fear Mikulski might be a bit of a hyperbole. But only a bit.
Add the leader of the free world to that list — and he has a fleet of lethal drones… More