Solomon: Obama will launch a huge propaganda blitz--and may attack Syria even if he loses the vote in Congress


Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at

Grassroots pressure has forced President Obama to seek approval from Congress for an attack on Syria. But Obama is hell-bent on ordering a missile assault on that country, and he has two very important aces in the hole.

The administration is about to launch a ferocious propaganda blitz that will engulf a wide range of U.S. media. And as a fallback, the president is reserving the option of attacking Syria no matter what Congress does.

Until Obama’s surprise announcement Saturday that he will formally ask Congress for authorization of military action against Syria, the impassioned pitches from top U.S. officials in late August seemed to be closing arguments before cruise missiles would hit Syrian targets. But the pre-bombing hyper spin has just gotten started.

The official appeals for making war on yet another country will be ferocious. Virtually all the stops will be pulled out; all kinds of media will be targeted; every kind of convoluted argument will be employed.

Hell hath no fury like war-makers scorned. Simmering rage will be palpable from political elites who do not want to see Congress set an unprecedented precedent: thwarting the will of a president who wants Pentagon firepower unleashed on another country.

President Obama and top Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will twist every arm they can to get a “yes” vote for attacking Syria. Meanwhile, most mainline media pundits, numbingly addicted to war, will often chastise and denigrate foes of authorization.

But we have a real chance to prevent a U.S. attack. One cogent argument after another, from intelligence veterans and policy analysts and weapons experts, has debunked the messaging for war on Syria. And some members of Congress -- not nearly enough, but some -- have begun to speak up with cogent opposition.

One of NPR’s inside-the-box hosts of “All Things Considered” on August 30 asked Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) about the Obama administration’s claim that missile strikes on Syria would be “a limited action” and not “war.” Congresswoman Lofgren replied: “I think that anyone who argues that shooting missiles and dropping bombs on another country is not an act of war has got some further education warranted. If somebody shot cruise missiles at Washington for only one day, we would still consider it an act of war, wouldn’t we?”

Not many members of Congress have Lofgren’s clarity, and many of their votes on authorization are up for grabs. Each of us can help affect the outcome by demanding that our senators and representative oppose the war resolution. We should make our voices heard in all sorts of public venues.

The president’s move for a congressional vote should cause a major escalation of anti-war activism. A straw in the wind: during just a few hours after Obama’s announcement on Saturday afternoon, nearly 10,000 people took the initiative via to email members of Congress with a “No Attack on Syria” message.

National opinion polling and momentum inside Congress indicate that we can defeat Obama’s war resolution. It’ll be a tremendous fight, but we can prevail.

But even if Obama loses the vote in Congress, there’s a very real danger that he will proceed with ordering an attack on Syria.

Burying the lead almost a dozen paragraphs into a September 1 news story, the New York Times mentioned in passing: “White House officials indicated that Mr. Obama might still authorize force even if Congress rejected it.”

A careful reading of Obama’s Rose Garden announcement on Saturday verifies that he never quite said he will abide by the decision of Congress if it refuses to approve an attack on Syria. Instead, the president filled his statement with hedging phrases, detouring around any such commitment with words like these:

*  “I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. … And I'm prepared to give that order. But … I'm also mindful that I'm the President of the world's oldest constitutional democracy.”

*  “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.” 

*  “Over the last several days, we've heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.”  

*  “And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote.” 

*  “I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage. Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.”

At the grassroots, people across the United States will be working very hard to prevent congressional approval of an attack on Syria. That activism is imperative. But we should also understand that Obama has not committed himself to abide by the decision that Congress makes.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information on the documentary based on the book is at

(Bruce B. Brugmann edits and writes the bruce blog on the Bay Guardian website at  He is the editor at large of the Bay Guardian and former editor and co-founder and co-publisher with his wife Jean Dibble, 1966-2012.)


If a few liberals want to vote to let the Assad's baby-killing continue, then let that be on their conscience.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 10:07 am

Most Americans are tired of the United States getting involved in wars - or starting them (see Vietnam, Iraq) - where their involvement only makes things worse.

You must also be a supporter of Al-Qaeda for as bad as Assad may be, his opponents he's fighting - those opponents of his that are strongest right now on the battlefield- are much worse for they are either Al Qaeda or alligned with them. Thus you are an enemy of the American ppl - as is Nancy Pelosi for supporting this stupid move by Obama.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Most Americans supported Iraq1, Afghanistan and (by a less clear cut majority) Iraq2.

That said, I generally support these insane factions in the ME killing each other and, as long as they do that, good luck to them, and we should supply both sides with arms.

But CBW against children crosses a line, and most Americans do not want to see more of that.

Most Americans support the Presidents that initiated these engagements.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 11:20 am

If you really believe most Americans aren't tired of all these idiotic wars that are, usually big money give-aways to the defense corporations (who then give a bit of it back to the politicians who gave them the billions of taxpayers $), then you're living in a fantasy world.

Though just a sample, go take a look at the comments on sfgate on articles about Pelosi and Boehner supporting wanting to get us into yet another war.
About 99% of the comments are saying it's idiotic to get involved, and each one is getting 20 thumbs up for each thumbs down. And from the comments there, it's clear most of them are not liberals.

As for your statement that most Americans supported Iraq2, yeah they probably did - in other words, they got badly fooled from propaganda that looks too similar to that from Iraq war supporter (and thus fool) Kerry - and they know it NOW and have smartened up. It'll take probably another decade before the chickenhawks can get them to fall for another idiotic war (aka massive subsidy program for the defense industry).

This will not pass in the House I believe (it will in the Senate because that's a much less democratic institution with senators serving 6 long years so that they generally are not held accountable for stupid votes like Feinstein's vote for the Iraq war). There's already stories about conservative Republican house members hearing from their constituents at townhall meetings that they don't want the US involved in it.

The only vote so far on this has been in the British parliament - the same parliament that got fooled by Tony Blair and that has smartened up some just like US House members will - and you know how that vote went - and the vote for war LOST.

As for your last statement ("most Americans support the Presidents that initiated these engagements"), like I said, voters have had to smarten up from being lied to badly, and they aint supporting them any more for at least another decade (until the memory of the Iraq fiasco is long out of their memory).

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

votes against war then it is expressing the true view of the people?

How convenient.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:34 am

What deserves a LOL is your reading ability. If that's what you got from what I wrote, it's not surprising you're living in a fantasy world. I'll help you out with a hint since you need it: voting for the Iraq war was a foolish vote, and it won't be so easy to fool them again. You'll probably still not get it but I tried to help you.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:33 am

You claimed that when a government voted for war, that they were "fooled". But not when they voted against war.

All your post shows is that you are biased. I don't know about Syria but the American people have supported every US engagement so far.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 11:41 am

on children. Does that not cross a line for you, or is it okay as they were Japanese children and therefore "the enemy"?

Posted by Guest III on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

important than the lives of our enemies them the answer is yes, else I would not be an American.

That does not mean that we should look the other way when foreign leaders commit atrocities against their own people, and we can do something about it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:33 am

commits atrocities against its own people and against people elsewhere?

You rate the importance of someone's life by the size of his or her bank account.

Proud to be an American, free to kill you and me.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

Reports from Reuters, the UN and several other independent sources say the weapons were supplied to the Rebels by a Saudi Prince. Would you be just as willing to bomb the Rebels and Saudi Arabia? As for myself, my life's tough enough without trying to live through WW3.

Posted by NLE on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

The main question that has to be answered is what does America get out of attacking Syria, they are not a threat to us, again what is Obama's real purpose in attacking Syria?
To die by being shot or blown up by a rocket attack or bleed out after you have had your leg blown off or by chemicals is still death and all in all an unpleasant way to die.
Why wasn't Obama concerned a year or so ago when the death toll was say at 50,000 a lot of those were women and children.
The question that has to be answered is what does Obama get out of attacking Syria, and its definitely not based on humanity grounds.

Posted by David Sloane on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

America should get involved in third world shit holes, unless America is about to get involved in a third world shit hole.

This is your mind on Noam Chomsky/Ramsey Clark.

Posted by Matlock on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

It's the right that has had all the new ideas, while the left just lies smugly and does nothing.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

The left has excellent ideas - ideas that have time and time again been proven to be right - whether it was not going to war in Iraq or warning about the dangers of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, or many ideas I could list.

Of course they are bad ideas to you and the other idiots on the right because the ideas from the left are based on science, logic, and decency - things those on the right want nothing to do with - while those on the right are based on those in power using govt to help their friends obtain incredible govt contracts (see GWB and Cheney starting the Iraq War that gets Cheney's former firm, Halliburton, billions of dollars) - basically ideas based on greed and corruption - you know, ideas like saying climate change is a liberal hoax.

The idiots on the right - and their idiocy would be funny if they didn't have the incredible power they do - mostly because they control govt and the money it spends.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

They are merely proven to be popular or unpopular.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

as the Nazi's poignantly observed at Nuremburg, by those who turn out to be the winners.

The last debate that the left won, nationally, was MediCare, 50 years ago.

Posted by anon on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

There are years of comments showing your mind on Matlock, and it's not a pretty sight.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2013 @ 7:50 pm

For your search engine:

Senators who backed Syria resolution got 83 per cent more defense lobby money than those who voted against it, campaign finance numbers show
By David Martosko

Posted by Guest on Sep. 07, 2013 @ 2:19 am

The main reason for this unjust war is Iran,USA want to get involve Iran in a war and the obstacle is Syria which acts as Iran's partner.The main force to attack Syria are american Jews who have the obsession about Iran threatening their safety.The Jews are the main roots of evil there and they try to involve the world in 3rd World war.That's my diagnosis and lots of people as well.Americans would cry in the future because of these mad people but it will be too late.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 08, 2013 @ 4:20 am

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