Syria: Alan Grayson vs Buck McKeon
Grayson (D-FL), a relatively junior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has led the battle to keep the U.S. out of another pointless war in the Middle East. Although the Establishment is furious at him-- and looking for pay-back-- Orlando, and Americans everywhere, should be very proud of what he has accomplished on our behalf. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is the polar opposite. Chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, he was one of the forces pushing the U.S. towards war or, more accurately, towards spending more money on war. McKeon is rumored to be retiring to K Street soon; his family already owns a lobbying firm that McKeon will eventually run, enriching himself as he continues his efforts for the Military-Industrial Complex. We'll get to McKeon in a moment. First, for anyone who didn't see the letter Grayson sent his constituents, it's worth reading:
After three frenetic weeks, during which time Team Grayson was burning the midnight oil every night, it's time to take stock of what we've accomplished.
Here were the headlines in late August, just before we started our campaign against U.S. military intervention in Syria.
"Syria crisis: UK and US finalise plans for military strikes"-- The Guardian, August 27.
"Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition-- sources"-- Reuters, August 27.
"Strike Against Syria is Imminent"-- Reuters, August 27.
"Obama Will Bomb Syria"-- Politico, August 26.
"U.S. military 'ready' to attack Syria, Hagel says"-- CBS News, August 27.
And here are the headlines, now:
"Obama to explore diplomatic route on Syria,"-- Reuters, September 10.
"U.S. to Work Through U.N. on Syria Arms Proposal"-- the New York Times, September 10.
"Obama Agrees To U.N. Discussion Of Putting Syria Chemical Weapons Under International Control"-- Associated Press, September 10.
"Syria Will Sign Chemical Weapons Convention, Declare Arsenal, Foreign Ministry Says"-- Reuters, September 10.
Let's go behind the headlines, to the numbers in Congress. Bloomberg News just came out with its own count of how every single member of the U.S. House and Senate would vote on war with Syria. In the U.S. Senate, which is institutionally designed to favor war and bailouts, the war vote is losing 34-22. That's shocking-- the Senate is voting for peace?! In the U.S. House of Representatives, it's even better. House members oppose war by a 10-to-one margin. The Washington Post has it at 26 in favor, 251 against.
In other words, we are winning. Peace is winning.
How did this miracle happen?
To answer that question, look in the mirror.
You did this. Your calls and e-mails. Your pressure. The military industrial complex, the neoconservatives like Dick Cheney, the foreign policy corporate-funded think tanks in D.C., the warmongers at the State Department-- they wanted war, but you wouldn't let them. We stood up for peace.
Now, what's interesting is not just that we averted military action (so far). It's also what has happened, because we averted military action. We showed that successful diplomacy, shunted aside just a week ago as irrelevant, is actually possible.
Instead of me railing against Buck McKeon, I want to now turn to Michael Ostrolenk at the American Conservative and his column yesterday, Brother McKeon, Can You Spare A Dime>. Once again, conservatives are as repulsed by the sleazy, self-serving, crooked McKeon as normal people are.
Think about this. We are on the verge of a solution that:
• Removes chemical weapons from Syria, preventing another attack and putting them out of the reach of both the Assad regime and Al Qaeda,This happened only because of our work. To his credit, President Obama listened. He listened to Congress, to the voices of allies around the world asking us to pause, and most importantly, to We the People of These United States. But you spoke, President Obama listened, and now peace may bloom.
• Does not require the use of dangerous military force by the United States,
• Compels Syria to become a signer to the Chemical Weapons Convention,
• Restores the role of Congress in matters of war and peace, and
• Rejuvenates the United Nations as a platform for peace.
Of course, we may still go to war-- the war lobby is fierce and relentless. Even as we speak, warmongers in Congress are writing new war resolution language, thinking that if they tweak this word or that word, making it an itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy war, it can pass. To that, we say, "a big, fat NO."
We have shown that Peace can be more powerful than War.
And hopefully, one day soon, we will not be arguing about where to direct our bombs. If you and I keep working together, we will be trying to figure out what to do with the fruits of peace-- the Peace Dividend.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Obviously Congressman Buck McKeon (chairman, House Armed Services Committee) did not follow my advice in my last blog post, entitled “Rep. McKeon Is Right (Kind of) on the Sequester. In it I suggested that he could lead a revolution in military thinking to address 21st century threats and fiscal realities. From his latest item in the Wall Street Journal, he has chosen not to lead but, as I pointed out, to “continue living in the 20th century with his military industrial complex mindset making us poorer and less safe.” In his WSJ opinion piece, Rep. McKeon calls on President Obama to restore alleged “cuts” to the Pentagon in exchange for his support for a military strike in Syria. He claims Obama’s cuts have hollowed out the military, leaving it a skeleton without the capacity to carry out the most limited strike.On this page, you can contribute to Alan Grayson's reelection campaign. You can also contribute to Buck McKeon's opponent for the CA-25 congressional seat, Lee Rogers.
I’ve already addressed those alleged cuts in the last post, so let me use this opportunity to make a different point. If a U.S. military strike against Syria is the right thing to do (which I would disagree with as a point of policy) then Congressman McKeon, out of principle, needs to support it. He should not blackmail President Obama over sequestration. There should never be a quid pro quo when it comes to doing the right thing. It’s either right or wrong. He should work with the Pentagon to find the funding already available to carry out the strikes He does not need to undo sequestration, which merely put a dent in the Pentagon budget. It would be somewhat comical, if it were not so serious, that with the $17 trillion national debt, Congressman McKeon thinks the Pentagon cannot spare a dime and, in fact, thinks U.S. taxpayers need to give DOD even more of our hard-earned money. The Pentagon will be much more effective and efficient if we cut out the waste and eliminate congressional pork projects. The United States would be safer and more secure if our leaders lived in the same world as us, where math matters and questions of war are taken very seriously.