Anti-war Democrats’ lack of unity gives Obama cover on Syria policy

Three of the senators who voted against the 2002 Iraq war authorization — Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — voted for legislation to arm the rebels that cleared the Senate Foreign Relations panel on a 15-3 vote last month. And Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services and another “no” vote on Iraq, has gone one step further and called for a no-fly zone to protect rebel-held areas.

“I would go further than the president,” Levin said in March.

The bellicose rhetoric from its own side has left anti-war Democrats on the defensive.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who opposes arming the rebels, said it’s high time for Congress to be brought in on the conversation.

“If the president is so confident that we are going to do something about it, then we ought to be briefed,” Rangel said. “I don’t know about Russia providing arms and we’re providing arms — then they’ll be providing advisers and we’ll provide advisers. You know, I’ve been to this movie before.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) warned that “even escalating what arms we give [presents] a real danger of Americanizing what is a civil war.”