FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 10, 2014
Robert Naiman, Policy Director
(202) 448-2898 x1
Just Foreign Policy Statement in Response to President Obama’s Statement on Plans for Military Escalation in Iraq & Syria
Washington, DC- Just Foreign Policy released the following statement by Policy Director Robert Naiman, in response to President Obama’s statement concerning his plans for U.S. military escalation in Iraq and Syria:
We are deeply troubled by President Obama’s apparent claims that he does not need and will not seek Congressional authorization to continue airstrikes in Iraq and expand them to Syria, nor to expand the arming and training of insurgents in Syria, which arming has contributed to the present strength of ISIS. Obama was right when he told the Boston Globe as a Presidential candidate in December 2007, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” President Obama was right to seek Congressional authorization for bombing Syria last year. He is wrong not to seek authorization now.
Statement of Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, on House passage of Conyers-Yoho amendment to prohibit transfer of MANPADS to Syria
President Obama is under heavy pressure to order direct U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria. But as Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times, avoiding direct U.S. military involvement in these two countries' civil wars is the "least bad option."
Thanks to Reps. Barbara Lee and John Conyers, we have a crucial opportunity TODAY to push back against the warmongers. The House will be voting on amendments to the defense appropriation that would block direct U.S. military action in Iraq and block the U.S. supply of manpads to Syrian insurgents.
Call the Congressional Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative's office. When you reach a staffer (or leave a voice mail) say
I urge you to support Barbara Lee's amendments to the defense appropriation to block funds from being used to wage another war in Iraq, and the Yoho-Conyers amendment to block the transfer of manpads to Syrian insurgents. Congress must assert its Constitutional responsibility to publicly decide when the United States goes to war.
Let us know how your call went by filling out our easy response form below.
Last September, Congress said no to plans to bomb Syria, by failing to approve an authorization for the use of military force.
On June 5, 19 Representatives led by Peter Welch of Vermont sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama, urging him to resist pressure to transfer manpads - shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, that can be used to shoot down civilian aircraft - to Syrian insurgents.
This letter was supported by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, United for Peace and Justice, and Just Foreign Policy.
The signers were:
Peter Welch (D)
Walter Jones (R)
Mick Mulvaney (R)
Rick Nolan (D)
Jim McGovern (D)
John Campbell (R)
Alan Grayson (D)
Mark Pocan (D)
Paul Broun (R)
Peter DeFazio (D)
John Garamendi (D)
Hank Johnson (D)
Eni Faleomavaega (D)
Steve Cohen (D)
Ted Yoho (R)
John Conyers (D)
Michael Capuano (D)
Danny Davis (D)
John Lewis (D)
Let us know how your call to your Rep went by filling out the form below.
Right now, Syrian insurgents that the U.S. is arming and their allies are pressing President Obama to approve the transfer of "manpads" to Syrian insurgents. These shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons that can be used to shoot down civilian aircraft. Their transfer would increase the risk of terrorism in the Middle East and beyond and violate international agreements to control these weapons that the U.S. helped put in place. These are key reasons that the Administration has not agreed to transfer manpads to Syria, and why the Obama Administration should resist pressure to change its position.
Rep. Peter Welch [D-VT] and Rep. John Conyers [D-MI] are leading efforts in Congress to push back against the dangerous demand to send manpads to Syria.
Rep. Welch is sending a letter to President Obama today urging him to resist pressure to send manpads to Syria. Rep. Conyers is introducing an amendment during the upcoming consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] to explicitly bar the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles–“manpads”–to Syrian rebels.
Your Representative has been identified as crucial to the success of these efforts.Urge Rep. Rosa DeLauro to support Rep. Welch and Rep. Conyers in working to block the transfer of manpads to Syria.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Representative’s office. When you reach the office, say:
I urge you to support Congressional efforts led by Rep. Peter Welch and Rep. John Conyers to block the transfer of manpads to Syrian rebels. If transferred to Syria, these weapons are likely to fall into the hands of terrorists who will use them against civilian aircraft. I urge you to support Rep. Welch's letter to the President opposing the transfer of these weapons and I urge you to support Rep. Conyers' amendment on the NDAA to explicitly prohibit the transfer of these weapons.
Over the holiday weekend, two major developments occurred on the Iran diplomacy front: the interim nuclear deal with UN Security Council members and Germany took effect, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to the second Syria peace conference, called Geneva II, which starts January 22.  
If you've seen the news the last two days, you probably already know that Secretary of State John Kerry pressured Secretary General Ban to withdraw Iran's invitation to Geneva II purportedly because Iran never agreed to the terms of the Geneva communiqué, the outcome of the previous peace conference that Iran was also not invited to. 
But just last week, Kerry admitted that Iran was a “major actor” in the Syria conflict and that “no other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.”  Given this, how can the US expect to secure a ceasefire without Iranian cooperation?
With real progress being made in the nuclear talks, now is the time to also talk to Iran about Syria.
Tell John Kerry to stop blocking Iran's involvement in the Syria talks and to work with Iran to secure a ceasefire to stop the killing.
Thanks for all you do to help bring about a just foreign policy,
Megan Iorio, Chelsea Mozen, and Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
Help support our work — make a $10 tax-deductible donation today!
Your financial support helps us create opportunities for Americans to agitate for a more just foreign policy.
1. “Iran begins enrichment cap as nuclear deal with world powers takes effect,” Barbara Slavin, Al Jazeera, January 19, 2014, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/1/19/iran-world-powersstartin...
2013 was a big year for Just Foreign Policy. Here's a brief summary of our greatest wins.
Preventing a US military strike on Syria. When President Obama announced his intention to bomb Syria, Just Foreign Policy was the first progressive organization to say that Obama should go to Congress to seek authorization. We initiated a petition to Congress to get them to demand that the President come to them. We also worked to get Democratic signatures on two Congressional letters to the same effect. When Obama announced he would go to Congress, we urged members to oppose authorization. Read more >
Getting the US to talk to Iran. This year, the Obama administration took major steps toward a comprehensive deal with Iran, something that we have been pushing for since our inception. Read more >
Going up against AIPAC many times—and winning. Starting with its failed fight to against Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary, AIPAC has lost many a battle against us and our coalition partners this year. Read more >
Raising a $70,000 bounty on the TPP—and WikiLeaks publishing the text. Last year, we initiated a campaign to crowdsource a reward for WikiLeaks should it publish the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). After attracting attention from mainstream media and techie sites alike, we had raised over $70,000 in pledges by the time WikiLeaks published the most controversial portions of the agreement in November. Read more >
For the last few weeks, we've been presenting some of the success stories of 2013. Today, we want to do something a bit different. Let's talk about some of this year's losses—AIPAC's losses, that is.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee—known popularly by its acronym, AIPAC—has acquired a reputation as an organization that pretty much always gets what it wants. When it somehow doesn't—like in 2008 when our coalition got its Iran blockade bill shelved—it's a really big deal. So one of the most surprising—and exciting—things about 2013 was the sheer amount of times AIPAC failed to achieve its goal.
Let's go back to the beginning of the year. President Obama wanted Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary. AIPAC didn't, and launched a major campaign against him. JFP, along with our coalition partners, pushed back. We won; AIPAC lost.
AIPAC sent 300 lobbyists to the Hill to push for US military strikes on Syria. We succeeded in delaying a decision long enough for a diplomatic deal to be reached. We won; AIPAC lost.
AIPAC did not want a rapprochement between the US and Iran in the wake of Hassan Rouhani's election. We encouraged diplomacy. 131 Members of Congress backed a reinvigorated effort to engage Iran. The Obama administration ended 30 years of silence by engaging in high-level talks that brought about an interim deal. We won; AIPAC lost.
AIPAC and its friends in Congress have been trying to nuke the Iran deal by pressuring Congress to pass new sanctions and other incendiary legislation. But Congress just ended its last session of the year—and no legislation passed. On top of that, we got Sen. Elizabeth Warren to back the interim deal during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. We won (twice!); AIPAC lost.