John Bolton on Syrian resolution: "I would vote no"

It sounds like the White House is gunning for the support of Sen. John McCain in whipping up the necessary votes for Obama’s proposed use of force resolution for Syria, but McCain’s most recent line of thinking is that he can’t quite get behind the resolution because it doesn’t go far enough. He’s evidently looking for some clear-cut strategery and more defined and rebel-aiding goals tfrom the Obama administration before he casts his yea, but former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton — a.k.a., major Bush-era foreign policy hawk — doesn’t think getting involved in Syria at all is really in the United States’ interests, and that neither the Syrian government nor the rebel groups will prove particularly helpful to advancing U.S. goals. As Bolton points out, however, it’s looking increasingly likely that the White House will get the Congressional green-light on Obama’s resolution, because they are in full-on lobbying mode working to get their ducks in a row. Oof.

I would not have referred the matter to Congress, and I think if I were a member of Congress, I would vote against an authorization to use force here. I don’t think it’s in America’s interest. I don’t think we should, in effect, take sides in the Syrian conflict. There’s very little to recommend either side to me, and I think the notion that a limited strike, which is what the president seems to be pursuing, will not create a deterrent effect with respect either to Syria’s use of chemical weapons or, more seriously, Iran’s nuclear weapons program. So, all in all, since I don’t see any utility to the use of military force in Syria in this context, I would vote no. Now the argument that the administration makes is, the president’s committed us here, it’ll cause a huge blow to America’s credibility if Congress doesn’t approve the use of force. And I’d say, a huge blow to America’s credibility compared to what? Compared to the mess the president’s already made of it? I just don’t think there’s a convincing argument here, and frankly it doesn’t matter what the intelligence shows. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Assad’s regime used chemical weapons. I don’t think that’s going to change anybody’s mind. … I think they’re going to approve some resolution authorizing some use of force, God only knows what it will say. But I think the administration will win, I think the White House candy store is open, I think the ideal job to have today is to be a Democratic member of Congress. ‘What do you need for your district or state?’ … The White House is going to do whatever it takes to get a majority.

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David Strom 3:21 PM on March 24, 2023