Win Without War Coalition Members React to Congressional Vote to Arm Syrian Rebels

Last Updated on September 17, 2014.

On September 17, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Buck McKeon’s amendment to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels. Here’s what our members had to say about the vote:
MoveOn Statement on Today’s House Vote to Arm and Train Syrian Rebels

Statement from Anna Galland, executive director of Civic Action, in response to today’s vote in the House authorizing the United States to arm and train Syrian rebels:

“The message from this week’s House debate and Senate hearings about arming rebels in Syria could not be clearer: There are far too many pressing and unanswered questions to move forward with a plan that could lead to another open-ended war in the Middle East without a thorough debate that includes Congress and the American people.

“The American people have made clear that we must weigh a range of sound and effective options for dealing with ISIS, and that we must have a full, robust debate before even considering or authorizing another war in the Middle East.

“Today’s vote does not — by any means — take the place of an authorization for use of military force. It’s imperative that this full and informed Congressional deliberation happens before the rush to war.”

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Progressive Orgs slam House “rush to war,” making “Americans less safe”

Washington, DC — Following the news that the House voted in favor of the controversial McKeon amendment which would fund weapons and training for so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, CREDO and Democracy for America (DFA) blasted the vote.

Statement from CREDO:

“It’s a sad commentary that Congress is in such a hurry to leave the Capitol that they disregarded the concerns of millions of Americans who oppose another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East.

“Congress’ rush to war means that we are now poised to dramatically increase the chances that the U.S. will make a terrible situation worse, not better. The White House and Congress are proposing to give powerful arms and training to fighters whose ultimate loyalties we cannot know.

“That these arms can be easily given to or captured by our enemies means this latest move dramatically increases the chances that the U.S. and its military will be more not less likely to be targeted by extremist attacks in the future.” — Becky Bond, Political Director, CREDO

Statement from Democracy for America’s Charles Chamberlain:

“Let’s be clear: The House’s vote today makes Americans less safe, by pushing us one step closer to providing weapons and training to so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels that we know very little about in the middle of complex, constantly-changing civil war.

“No matter whatever happens in the Senate tomorrow, critically important questions are being raised by the American people about the relentless rush to war that must be answered by Congressional debate over the authorization for the broader mission against ISIS.

“While some in Congress and the White House may have been able to use the election season to jam misguided funding for weapons and training through without real debate, the American people’s representatives can’t hide from a public discussion and debate on war forever.” — Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

CREDO and DFA are two national progressive groups that represent millions of activists who are deeply concerned about the U.S. rushing into yet another open-ended war in the Middle East.

4,000 CALLS TO CONGRESS: In just 24 hours, CREDO and DFA activists made thousands of calls to members of Congress urging them to vote “NO” on the McKeon amendment. The groups are now pivoting to the Senate which could vote as early as Thursday on the amendment.

Peace Action: Congress Shows Concern in Vote for Funding Syria Militias

For Immediate Release:  September 17, 2014

Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell,
Kevin Martin, Peace Action, 301-537-8244 cell,

Washington, DC — September 17, 2014 — In response to today’s House vote to arm and train Syria militias, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. released the following statement by its executive director, Kevin Martin:

The House of Representatives’ vote today to arm and train “moderate” elements of the Syrian opposition in the hopes they will fight ISIS seems a preposterous leap of faith and misappropriation of our tax dollars for a war Congress has not yet authorized, as the Constitution expressly stipulates it must. The U.S. military trained the 100,000+ Iraqi Army, and they failed miserably in their first encounters with ISIS fighters, so how will training 5,000 Syrian fighters do the job? As to providing weapons, it’s far easier to see how that goes disastrously than successfully, as U.S. weapons have already ended up in the hands of ISIS forces. Even the CIA, which has been running a covert program supporting the Free Syrian Army from a base in Jordan, is reportedly skeptical of this new plan.

This is also a poor way to run a democracy, with only one house of Congress voting on one aspect of President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS, as indications are the Senate will not vote on an amendment to arm Syrian rebels, but rather accept the House’s action and vote only on the Continuing Resolution to keep the government running into December, which includes the House vote. Neither the House nor Senate have voted to authorize the president to attack Syria or Iraq, and plan not to do so until December. Is this “cross our fingers and hope for the best while we campaign for re-election” strategy worthy of Congress’s Constitutional authority over issues of war and peace? The House would have done well to heed the concerns expressed by U.S.. Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, who before the vote stated, “Every time the United States has gotten into a war, it has started with something like this.”

For our part, we are heartened that over two dozen organizations mobilized on short notice to oppose this dangerous plan, generating tens of thousands of calls to Congress in just two days. Peace Action members will continue to raise concerns about this new quagmire-to-be at the Peoples Climate March in New York City this Sunday, on the campaign trail by bird-dogging candidates to state clearly their positions on this new war, and when Congress gets around to voting on a war authorization in its December lame duck session.

Opposition to the vote by 156 Representatives (85 Democrats, 71 Republicans) shows congressional concern that weapons and training can come back to bite the U.S., that more arms in the Middle East will only fuel the fire and this can be the Camel’s nose under another war tent. We will continue to advocate diplomatic, political and humanitarian alternatives that will be more effective in combating ISIS, rather than continued military escalation.

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran.

Posted by Angela Miller.

September 17, 2014