Rick Nolan gets into "heated exchange" with John Kerry for comparing Syria to Vietnam
Nolan is "vehemently opposed to a military strike" in Syria.
Democratic northern Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan has emerged as one of the most staunch opponents of President Obama's desire to launch some sort of military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
According to a Politico report, during a conference call yesterday in which Secretary of State John Kerry tried to sell members of Congress on the necessity of a military strike, Nolan and Kerry got into a "heated" exchange after Nolan compared Syria to Vietnam. Kerry, of course, was wounded while serving there.
Politico details the argument Kerry made during the call:
Secretary of State John Kerry told House Democrats that the United States faced a "Munich moment" in deciding whether to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.
In a 70-minute conference call on Monday afternoon, Kerry derided Syrian President Bashar Assad as a "two-bit dictator" who will "continue to act with impunity," and he urged lawmakers to back President Barack Obama's plan for "limited, narrow" strikes against the Assad regime, Democratic sources on the call said.
Kerry's derisive comments on Assad and his reference to the 1938 Munich agreement between Adolf Hitler and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain -- after which Chamberlain infamously declared it would lead to "peace for our time" -- showed the hard line the White House is taking in its drive for congressional approval of the Syrian resolution. Top administration officials argue that a failure by the United States to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime will only lead to more violence and instability in the region.
But Nolan wasn't persuaded, and following the call, he released a statement saying, "After a three-hour classified briefing and taking time to read all the classified documents, what I have heard and read has only served to convince me more than ever of the folly and danger of getting America involved in the Syrian civil war."
"I will vote and work against President Obama's request for open-ended authority to launch military strikes against the Syrian army," he concluded.
Over the weekend, Obama said he'd seek congressional approval before striking Assad militarily. It appears he can count Nolan and Michele Bachmann among the nay votes. (On the other hand, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have signaled their support.)
Will Obama forge ahead with a military strike even if Congress isn't persuaded by Kerry's sell job? According to the Washington Post, during a press conference on Saturday, Obama didn't tip his hand as to what he'll do if Congress rejects a measure authorizing his administration to use force.
h/t -- David Brauer
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.