Soldier Backlash Against Striking Syria

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When President Obama announced to the country that he was seeking Congressional approval for a strike against Syria in response to their reported use of chemical weapons, there was bound to be backlash.

Many Republican hawks on Capitol Hill, including Sen. John McCain, had previously criticized the president for dragging his heels and ignoring the civil war in Syria that has lasted since the Arab Spring protests over two years ago. However, the president’s announcement changed that conversation, allowing those opposed to any action at all against Syria to take the bully pulpit even though President Obama clarified “we would not put boots on the ground.”

Congressmen Justin Amash (R-Mich.) took the discussion to the site where everyone has a voice: Twitter. “I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our Armed Forces,” he wrote. “The message, I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against #Syria.” He backed up his statement by sharing tweets from a number of service members expressing their disproval. Many of the protestations included the idea that striking Syria is tantamount to alliance of the U.S. Military and Al Qaeda.

President Obama has not expressed an alliance with the Syrian rebels, which are comprised of some fighters pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda. However, the president is instead interested in sending a message about the use of chemical weapons, especially on civilians. When asked at an unscheduled press conference on August 20, 2012 about Syria, President Obama said that chemical weapons usage was a “red line,” that would change his “calculus,” implying military action. 

It’s not just war-weary servicemembers on Twitter expressing their reticence to get involved in the Syrian civil war, but also high-ranking military officers, including General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hearings on Capitol Hill are currently underway.