The link between American interests and Syria is not clear, Sen. Rand Paul said on Sunday.
“I think the war may escalate out of control, and then we have to ask ourselves, ‘Who is on America’s side over there?'” the Kentucky Republican asked David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I don’t see American interests involved on either side of this Syrian war. I see [Bashar] Assad, who has protected Christians for a number of decades, and Islamic rebels on the other side who have been attacking Christians,” Paul said.
The interests of Christians in the region, however, pale in comparison to the interests of a far more powerful ethnic group (both in that region and in the United States.) They want action, of course, but are delicately strategizing how best to get such action, how best to minimize negative blowback, and how best to get it to ‘play’ with the American public:
The White House will need every vote it can get on the Syria resolution, and the senior administration officials left little doubt that Israel would be a point of emphasis in private discussions with members of Congress….
Washington’s pro-Israel lobby, typically highly critical of the Syrian regime, has been publicly silent in recent days, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked officials in his government not to speak about possible American intervention in Syria…
Indeed, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most prominent pro-Israel lobbying group, wrote on its website Thursday that the Syrian crisis underscored the need to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, delicately sidestepping the question of whether Obama should strike Assad.
The administration’s case that intervening benefits Israel will turn on what lawmakers hear from pro-Israel groups in their communities and from the reactions of leading Jewish lawmakers, said a senior House Democratic aide.
The Israel angle “only has a major impact if it’s getting validated from others,” the aide said. “Doesn’t have to be AIPAC writ large, but the local AIPAC lay leaders that the members have personal relationships [with] need to be validating.”
House leaders are likely to use prominent Jewish members who are hawkish on Israel as a bellwether. That group includes Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California, Eliot Engel and Steve Israel of New York, Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Brad Schneider of Illinois.
Meanwhile, right on cue, Neoconservatism, Inc. tries to ‘nudge‘ the country towards action on Syria:
Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, predicts Republicans will back President Barack Obama’s call for military action in Syria.
“I think the Republican Party will step up and do the right thing and support the president against a chemical-weapons-using, terror-sponsoring, Iran-backed dictator,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
NYT: “On Obama’s Plan, a Message Emerges in Israel: Stay Quiet” (9/2/13)