President Barack Obama met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus Monday in a critical effort to gain their support for his plan to attack Syria.
Obama joined National Security Advisor Susan Rice who was already meeting black lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It’s unclear whether all members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on board – and it’s certainly a hard sell for Obama.
What we do know is this: Black Americans want Obama – and the United States – to stay out of Syria’s civil war.
As Obama prepares to address the nation Tuesday to bolster support for his plan to attack Syria, many African Americans – the president’s most loyal constituents — are vehemently opposed to a military strike and want Obama to stand down.
A national survey conducted for the Washington Post and ABC News found 40 percent of African Americans supporting airstrikes against Syria and 56 percent opposed. And a separate survey by the Pew Research Center reported similar results.
The survey asked: “Would you favor or oppose the U.S. conducting military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that the Syrian government used chemical weapons?” Only 22 percent of black non-Hispanics said they were in favor, 53 percent said they were opposed and 25 percent said they did not know.
“We can’t afford to always be the world’s watchdog; we have enough problems here at home,” said one black professional in a Washington, D.C. barber shop. “We can’t rescue everybody.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) – a member of the Congressional Black Caucus – convinced nearly 60 congressional leaders to sign a letter to Obama asking him to seek formal authorization from Congress for military action against Syria.
“We must learn the lessons of the past,” Lee said. “Lessons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and others. We must recognize that what happens in Syria does not stay in Syria; the implications for the region are dire.”
Obama is trying to convince Americans – and the world – that Syria’s civil war could have dangerous consequences for America.
The president says Syria’s recent use of chemical weapons killed 1,000 innocent civilians, including more than 400 children who died in agony, convulsing and foaming at the mouth.
The slaughter – the worst atrocity of the nation’s brutal civil war – was carried out with sarin nerve gas, Obama says, even though Syrian President Bashar al Assad denies the allegations.