- Photo of sailor, who bears the insignia of a Chief Petty Officer, was posted online on August 31
- Hundreds of protesters take to the streets in a stand against military action as Obama attempts to persuade Congress to launch strike on Syria
2 September 2013
As the U.S. teeters on the brink of launching a military strike on Syria, a provocative photo of a Navy officer appeared online, capturing the mood of deep concern among many Americans over the Obama administration’s plans.
The picture of an unidentified man, believed to be a Navy officer, has swept the web after he appeared in full regalia while covering his face with a sign which read: ‘I didn’t join the Navy to fight for al Qaeda in a Syrian civil war!’
It has not been verified whether the man is an actual U.S. Navy officer – although his uniform does bear the insignia of a ranking serviceman.
The badge on the left arm appears to be that of a Chief Petty Officer.
The image appeared on zerohedge.com, a website dedicated to ‘liberating oppressed knowledge’, according to their mission statement.
The picture was posted on the site on August 31 by a user taking the name ‘Tyler Durden’, a character from the movie Fight Club.
The photo appeared with the words: ‘Presented with no comment…whether or not this is a real member of the US armed forces is unknown but we suspect it sums up many of their perspectives as Obama punts to Congress.‘
Since the image appeared online, it has been re-tweeted hundreds of times and shared thousands of times on Facebook.
The picture is indicative of a mood of discontent building in the U.S. as President Obama and his top aides launch a full-scale political offensive to persuade a skeptical Congress to approve a military strike against Syria.
The administration faces an uphill struggle to win over lawmakers from both parties and a war-weary American public.
The President made calls to members of the House of Representatives and Senate, with more scheduled for today, underscoring the task confronting the administration before it can go ahead with using force in response to a deadly chemical attack blamed on the Syrian government.
Dozens of lawmakers, some in tennis shirts or shirtsleeves, cut short their vacations and streamed into the corridors of the Capitol building for a Sunday afternoon intelligence briefing on Syria with Obama’s national security team.
But the credibility of the administration’s intelligence is turning out to be a less important issue than the nature and usefulness of the response.
U.S. military officials are using the delay to reassess which ships will be used for a strike, and which sites in Syria to target.
One change was a decision to send the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and its entire strike group towards the Red Sea to help support the Syria strike, if needed.
Syria’s brutal two-and-a-half-year-old conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives, including hundreds who – according to the U.S. – were killed in chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime near Damascus on August 21.
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has denied involvement, instead blaming rebels for the attacks. Neither the U.S. nor the Assad regime has presented proof in public to back up the allegations.
In Washington, Obama was lobbying Congress to support a military strike to punish the Assad regime for its alleged chemical weapons use.
Obama initially seemed poised to launch military action without asking Congress, but over the weekend changed his mind.
A vote is expected after Congress returns from summer recess on September 7.
Obama was to meet with former political rival Senator John McCain at the White House on Monday, hoping the foreign policy hawk will help sell the idea of U.S. military intervention.
On Capitol Hill, senior administration officials briefed lawmakers in private on Sunday to explain why the U.S. was compelled to act against Assad. Further meetings were planned from Monday to Wednesday.