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Memory of Iraq War Vote Lingers Over Congress’ Syria Decision

President Barack Obama has acknowledged that he faces an uphill battle to win congressional backing for a military strike against Syria.

As the unpredictable debate over potential military action in Syria rages on Capitol Hill, it’s clear that the wars of the last decade are weighing heavily on lawmakers’ minds, particularly those who were in Congress when both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted to give President George W. Bush authority to invade Iraq, Al-Jazeera reports.

“Although administration officials have repeatedly said there will be no American boots on the ground and the circumstances are drastically different from Iraq in 2002, members of Congress are reticent to make the same mistakes again and suffer political consequences.”

“It may be irrelevant, but it’s unforgettable. It’s one of things that lingers on,” said former Rep. Connie Morella, one of six Republicans in the House to vote against the 2002 resolution because she didn’t see enough international backing. “People think ‘Gee, I made that mistake once, I don’t want to make it again.'”

“There are 162 members of the House of Representatives who participated in the 2002 vote and are still serving in Congress (some of them now in the Senate). Of those, 89 voted to authorize the war, and 73 voted against. In the Senate, 32 members from 2002 are still in the chamber, and 23 of them at the time voted for the resolution. It appears fewer of them will be on board with Obama’s request.”

Obama returns to US to face congressional battle over Syria

Obama has only a few days to convince Congress, which returns from summer recess on Monday.

The president is clearing his desk, going all-out to seek approval for the vote that he has said is vital for America’s credibility, reports BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives could vote on the Syrian issue as early as next week.

Obama canceled a work trip to California scheduled for Monday to focus his attention on building support for a resolution to launch a “limited, narrow” strike against Syria.”

G20 divided on Syria

According to the Guardian,  Obama left a fractious G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, on Friday after assembling a fragile alliance of countries accusing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad of being responsible for using poison gas against civilians. However, the president also left his Russian counterpart defiant and threatening unspecified military support for Syria if America attacks.

Vladimir Putin claimed that a majority of the G20 opposed any U.S.-led intervention, and gave no ground in his continual insistence that the chemical weapons attacks were a provocation by Syrian rebels designed to win international backing for an assault on the Assad regime.

Putin said that he and Obama had a one-to-one meeting lasting about 30 minutes in which they had discussed Syria. Both men had listened to the other’s position, but they had not agreed, he said.

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