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What U.S. Lawmakers Can Learn from Their Cousins across The Pond

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published
What has made headlines worldwide is the debate 

currently going on in the House of Commons in the U.K. Parliament over what Britain’s response should be at this stage in the brewing foreign policy conflict over chemicals weapons used in Syria and the intelligence that says it was Assad’s regime.

The White House believes the U.S. has enough intelligence to act, but President Barack Obama has not called on Congress to reconvene to consider the information the administration has. Obama will call congressional leaders on Thursday evening to talk about Syria, but the American people -- weary of war -- are left not knowing exactly what is going to happen next.

Many people who watch the debate over Britain’s response to Syria have asked, why are we not seeing this in the U.S.? Why are we not seeing this on Capitol Hill?

There is an actual discussion going on in the House of Commons between two opposing sides over whether the intelligence the international community has on the chemical weapons used in Syria is enough or if everyone should take a lesson from the Iraq war and wait until there is clear evidence Assad’s regime was responsible for the chemical weapon attacks.

Two sides, the Labor Party and the Conservative Party, face each other and exchange arguments. There are some snide remarks and political shots, but there is always a level of decorum and order to it.

One member accuses another MP of attempting to politically divide the House and the accused stands up and says, “I don’t believe such intervention is worthy of the honorable gentlemen.” It can be entertaining to watch. Members will vocalize their disagreement or their approval while a MP speaks and it is just a different experience than watching proceedings in Congress.

While it is entertaining, the back-and-forth between the opposing sides is informative and engaging. There is an effort by members of both sides to participate in a productive debate and discussion to make sure the U.K.'s response to chemical weapons use in Syria is the right one.

What have we seen from Washington? Nothing. We have talking points -- which is the most Americans get on most issues. We get talking points in the media, on Twitter, press releases from members of Congress, and press conferences from the White House.

Instead of Obama calling Congress back into session, he has decided he is just going to call them. From an objective perspective, it looks bad on the U.S. -- both internally and externally.

Credit: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

Credit: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

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