“This is a humanitarian, not a military, issue,” U.S. Rep. James P. Moran, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, said of the impending Congressional vote on President Obama’s desire to launch a military strike against assets of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
In an extensive, one-hour interview at the offices of the News-Press yesterday morning, Moran said he favors a military strike to retaliate against Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own civilian population, although he’s doubtful the Congress will approve it.
“If we don’t act, then a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will occur and will begin to be used with impunity,” Moran said. “They will become the new norm.” He cited the 1,429 civilians killed, including 426 children, by the chemical attack outside Damascus last month.
“This is not about feeding the massive military-industrial complex, this is about our values, and our dedication of a safer world,” he said. “It’s why I am in Congress, to bring about a peaceful, sustainable and just world.”
Moran conceded that a military strike “is not a perfect solution, but a better one than allowing the spread of chemical weapons use with impunity.” Candidly, Moran said he did not think Obama needed to bring the issue before Congress, because by hesitating the effectiveness of an attack may be less effective as Assad has time to relocate key assets to civilian neighborhoods. Still, he said, “This is not about going to war, but about holding Assad accountable.”
Moran contrasted his current support for a military strike in Syria to his staunch opposition to the War Powers Act of 2002, as well as the Patriot Act and re-authorization of the Patriot Act.
In 2002, he said, the George W. Bush administration’s push to invade Iraq involved “specious information” and “suspect motives.” He said it was clear to him then that the neo-conservatives were bent on long-term objectives precipitated by an invasion of Iraq.
The difference was also that there were no weapons of mass destruction, as were alleged, in Iraq, while what happened in Syria last month was clear evidence of the existence of, and willingness to deploy, such weapons.
The American public now is “clearly skeptical” about the idea of a military strike in Syria, because “its government hasn’t been honest,” as recent “whistle-blower” revelations of NSA excesses and so forth have shown, Moran said.
He said his opposition to the Patriot Act and its re-authorization was due to the fact they gave the President “broad, sweeping authority” that resulted in the kind of NSA excesses that have come to light. “It’s human nature,” he said. “If you have the license to do it, you will. There has been a lot of voyeurism in the guise of national security, and it is far less convincing that NSA wiretapping has had the deterrent effect the NSA claims.”
Beyond the Syria situation, Moran said he has a “very negative prognosis” about the state of the nation, overall. “The sequester, the debt ceiling and the appropriations process are all unresolved,” he noted. With Obama’s decision to allow 87 percent of the Bush era tax cuts to remain, he said that $2 trillion is going to have to come out of education, infrastructure and environmental protections, every discretionary component of the budget. With the sequester, “the government is on auto-pilot with a hole cut in the fuel tank.”
He blames leaders of the “extraction industries” for their assault on the size and effectiveness of government, saying they do it to eliminate regulations on their industries that impact their bottom lines. Their efforts were reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, giving them unlimited ability to skew the outcome of elections with anonymous fundraising.
As a result, Moran said, “We’re being prevented from being able to craft a great nation. There is no money for investment. Our work force is shrinking dramatically through a combination of outsourcing and automation. Workers have never been so expendable, too easily able to be replaced by machines and their efforts outsourced to places with the lowest common denominator of underpaid work forces.”
He said this will impact the economy by shrinking size and purchasing power of the “consuming public” that is also exacerbating inequality.
“The stock market is no longer an indicator of national growth,” he said, “nor is the unemployment rate. People are being forced to take jobs that are beneath them. Jobs define dignity.”
Models from the 1930s of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps would help, offering public benefits that would help everyone, including infrastructure maintenance and expansion, high speed rails, and environmental protections, he offered.
What’s the solution? “Leadership,” he intoned. “Obama should have let the Bush tax cuts expire. It will take someone who can engage Congress and be a tougher negotiator.”
The leader with the right amount of “gravitas and veritas,” he suggested: Hillary Clinton.