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"The stakes are just really too high here," Kerry said. "We are not going to lose this vote."
Seeking to sharpen the argument for war,
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Washington has struggled to rally allies to its cause, however, with only France firmly on board among major military powers. Stalwart ally Britain cannot be counted on after Parliament rejected using force in a vote last week. That could be a harbinger of the difficult task ahead for the Obama administration as it seeks Congress’ approval for cruise missile strikes and other limited measures once lawmakers return from summer break,
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A little more than a year ago, Obama declared that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would be the "red line" in a conflict that he has steadfastly avoided.
Senior administration officials were briefing members of Congress in private later Sunday. Further classified meetings would be held over the next three days, Kerry said. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans a Tuesday hearing.
Navy ships are on standby in the Mediterranean Sea ready to launch missiles.
Obama is likely to find strong support in the Democrat controlled Senate but a tougher fight in the GOP dominated House.
Despite the intense gridlock on Capitol Hill over debt reduction, health care,
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GOP Rep. Peter King of New York, who criticized Obama for not proceeding immediately against Assad,
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Kerry reiterated Obama’s oft repeated promise not to send any American troops into Syrian territory, a reflection of the president’s own aversion to getting too deeply involved in a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and drawn in terrorist organizations on both sides of the battlefield. military action.
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Asked repeatedly what Obama would do if Congress didn’t give its consent, Kerry said,
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"He is not trying to create an imperial presidency," Kerry said. "I believe that in the end, Congress will do what is right."
Administration officials said that until late Friday Obama appeared set on ordering a strike without first seeking Congress’ approval. After a walk around the White House grounds with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough,
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Complicating efforts in Congress is the demand for even stronger action from Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the leading Republican hawks in the Senate.
McCain said he and Graham and others "will be wanting a strategy, a plan, rather than just we’re going to launch some cruise missiles and that’s it." McCain said he was invited to the White House by Obama to discuss Syria and planned to go there Monday.
Kerry appeared on NBC’s "Meet the Press,
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What so many people are failing to realize is that Assad’s regime is the more moderate and Western of the two in conflict in Syria. The rebels are the semi literate peasant class along with a very few educated people from tribes other than that of the ruling regime. In this, it’s very much like Hussein era Iraq.
Another thing that many of the bleeding hearts are missing is that while the Assad regime doesn’t like us, the rebels HATE us. They’re infiltrated with al’Qaeda agents to a fare thee well and if they succeed in their aims they will be yet another Taliban regime that needs to be put down. We are talking about the people that Hezbollah has been recruiting for decades, folks.