- By John Hudson
John Hudson is a staff writer for Foreign Policy where he chases down stories from Foggy Bottom to the White House, the Pentagon to Embassy Row. Between 2009 and 2012, John covered politics and global affairs for The Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August War between Russia and Georgia for Salon.com and other news outlets. Over the years, he's dug up resignation-causing FEC documents; unmasked world-famous Internet trolls; exposed bizarre Photoshopping by government media; and revealed a secret Iranian military facility. John's weakness is cold craft beer from his birthplace of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's appeared on MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, and other broadcast outlets.
As President Barack Obama cancels a two-day trip to Los Angeles to shore up congressional support for a military strike against Syria, the administration remains tight lipped about one thing that might convince some lawmakers to support the intervention: the names of countries that have made clear they would join the United States in an attack. The lack of transparency has led some to question the purported size of the White House’s coalition.
For the past week, Secretary of State John Kerry and top Democrats — including DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz have said "dozens" of countries have agreed to participate in an attack against Syria.
"I think we’re at about 34 countries have indicated that if the allegations are true, that they would support some form of action against Syria," Kerry said Tuesday.
"In both military and diplomatic and political support, there are dozens of nations who had committed to back us up," Wasserman Schultz said earlier this week, citing classified briefings.
Both officials said they could not reveal a complete list of the countries willing to participate militarily, and when asked, Kerry could only name a handful of countries such as Turkey and France. At her daily briefing on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was repeatedly asked about the makeup of the U.S. coalition, but could only name nine who "publicly and explicitly expressed support for U.S. military action": Australia, Albania, Kosovo, Canada, Denmark, France, Poland, Romania, and Turkey. Those countries have not necessarily pledged to support the mission militarily, but Psaki said at least 10 countries have, though she couldn’t name them.
To the undecided lawmakers on the Hill, that’s a big problem.
"I don’t see anyone else using any military at all," Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus, told The Cable. "We don’t have NATO, we don’t have the Arab League, we don’t have the United Nations. This is an international violation, therefore it needs an international response." Meeks, like others, said he wants the U.S. to build more international support for a strike before he signs off.
Chances for a resolution passing in the Senate next week look good, but it’s less certain in the House where a coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative and libertarian Republicans have shown unease about authorizing military force. A number of ad hoc whip counts in the media show more votes against military action than in support, but House aides from both parties say those charts are misleading because there’s little incentive for members of Congress to declare they’ll vote "yes" at this early stage. "Of course you’re not going to say yes right now," one aide told The Cable. "If you’re a Democrat, you’ll rile up your liberal base. If you’re Republican, you’ll rile up your conservative base."
In order to allay lawmakers’ concerns, administration officials have used a range of indicators to suggest international support for a Syria strike. Many of these indicators have been expressions that don’t include military commitments.
"We’ve had some 53 nations or countries and organizations have acknowledged that chemical weapons were used here and have condemned it publicly," Kerry said on Tuesday. "Thirty-one nations have stated publicly that the Assad regime is responsible. And I think we’re at about 34 countries have indicated that if the allegations are true, that they would support some form of action against Syria…. The Arab League countries have condemned this. A number of them have asked to be part of a military operation."
At Thursday’s briefing, Psaki told reporters to keep in mind the number of behind-the-scenes discussions going on. "Obviously, there are a lot of private discussions that take place," she said." This is a work in progress. We’re still consulting with other countries, we’re still briefing other countries."
John Hudson is a staff writer for Foreign Policy where he chases down stories from Foggy Bottom to the White House, the Pentagon to Embassy Row. Between 2009 and 2012, John covered politics and global affairs for The Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August War between Russia and Georgia for Salon.com and other news outlets. Over the years, he's dug up resignation-causing FEC documents; unmasked world-famous Internet trolls; exposed bizarre Photoshopping by government media; and revealed a secret Iranian military facility. John's weakness is cold craft beer from his birthplace of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's appeared on MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, and other broadcast outlets.| The Cable |
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |
Yochi Dreazen is a Managing Editor for News at Foreign Policy. He is also writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. His book about military suicide was published by Random House's Crown division in 2014.
Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. He was born in Chicago, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he edited the award-winning daily campus newspaper and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1999 with degrees in History and English. He was hired by the Wall Street Journal immediately after graduation. Dreazen arrived in Iraq in April 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division, and spent the next two years living in Baghdad as the Wall Street Journal's main Iraq correspondent.
Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, Dreazen received the Military Reporters & Editors association’s top award for domestic military reporting in a large publication for a series of articles about military suicide and the psychological traumas impacting veterans of the two long wars. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Tablet and the New Republic and he appears regularly on TV and radio programs such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show and PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Dreazen gives frequent lectures about journalism, the wars and current events to both civilian and military audiences.
Dreazen lives in Washington with his wife, Annie Rosenzweig Dreazen, and their beloved Golden Retriever, Charlie.| The Cable |