As military leaders make the case for deepening military engagement in Syria and Iraq to Congress on Tuesday, more than two dozen groups are calling on lawmakers to seek answers to a number of questions about the mission that the Obama administration has so far failed to address.
“If the past decade of war in the Middle East has taught us anything, it’s that we must demand answers to hard questions before launching into war,” Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said in a statement. “That’s why, today, groups representing millions of Americans are calling on Congress to debate and be held accountable for America’s next steps in Syria and Iraq—so we don’t make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past.”
Congress has signaled it’s disinclined to have that debate by pushing any real consideration of military action until after the midterm elections. Though a number of lawmakers have called on the president to ask Congress for authorization, many are not looking for a chance to deliberate so much as to show off their hawk bona fides. Tuesday’s campaign, which includes phone calls to lawmakers, social media asks (using the hashtag #AmericaMustKnow) and petition signatures, is intended to point out the serious gaps and inconsistencies in the president’s strategy that Congress (and until recently, the media) have largely failed to take on.
“The public is told there’s no imminent threat to the US, so why are we rushing to war? Could weapons given to Syrian rebels eventually be used against the US?” reads an ad placed by MoveOn and Win Without War in Politico. “How could military force undermine nonmilitary strategies? How will we know when our objectives have been met? What is our clearly defined exit strategy? Under what legal authority are we intervening in Iraq and Syria?”
MoveOn collected more than 10,000 questions from its members. “How will the United States fund this new military offensive? How much will it cost?” asked a Vermont woman named Linda. According to an analysis by the National Priorities Project, one of the groups involved in Tuesday’s action, taxpayers are shelling out $312,500 every hour for military action against ISIS.
Others chimed in via Twitter:
— Angela K. Miller (@angelakkmiller) September 16, 2014
The organizations directing questions to lawmakers during Tuesday’s day of action include the Institute for Policy Studies, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Peace Action, and CREDO.