I think reports of a Republican crack-up are greatly exaggerated. From The New York Times:
Vote on Syria Sets Up Foreign Policy Clash Between 2 Wings of G.O.P.That's a great hook for a story, but when you read some of the story's quotes, you see that most skeptical Republicans just disagree with the specific approach of the White House, or wish to punish the president, or both. It isn't that they have a categorical distrust of the notion of intervention:
The Congressional vote on whether to strike Syria will offer the best insight yet on which wing of the Republican Party -- the traditional hawks, or a growing bloc of noninterventionists -- has the advantage in the fierce internal debates over foreign policy that have been taking place all year.
Republican divisions on national security have flared over the use of drones, aid to Egypt and the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency, and the tensions have played out publicly in battles between Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a libertarian-leaning freshman. Mr. McCain memorably called Mr. Paul and his compatriots "wacko birds," and Mr. Paul suggested that hawks like Mr. McCain were "moss covered."
But those intermittent spats could pale in comparison with the fight over whether to attack Syria, an issue on which Mr. McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, and Mr. Paul, a possible contender in 2016, will almost certainly be the leading spokesmen for their party's two wings.
...even Republicans who are not active supporters of Mr. Paul recognize that the country and their party are susceptible to a come-home-America message at a moment of war weariness and, among conservatives, profound distrust toward Mr. Obama.Even the neocons and other hawks underatand what's really motivating the skeptics:
"Americans have become increasingly inured to events thousands of miles away, within a distant and disconnected culture," said a longtime Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos, citing a nation "exhausted by crises." "They know our country is already overextended and doubt leaders who tell them there are 'no good options' but demand we choose one anyway."
As a result, Mr. Castellanos said, "Rand Paul is actually in sync with a crisis-weary America and a fatigued G.O.P."
... Senior House Republican aides said there was little appetite in conservative districts for a strike on Syria, and, as one put it, "the administration doesn't have one red cent of credibility in the bank" with members of Congress.
The hope among these interventionists is that they can make the vote less about enabling a despised Democratic president and more about sending a message not just to Syria but also to a potentially more dangerous nation: Iran.But if the no voters prevail, it's going to be precisely because Republicans don't feel like "enabling a despised Democratic president." It's going to be precisely about "the president versus Congress or him shuffling off responsibility." At the other end, it may be about some hawks thinking the policy isn't hawkish enough.
"Right now, the easy Republican vote looks like the vote against Obama," said Michael Goldfarb, a neoconservative lobbyist and writer....
"We cannot make this about the president versus Congress or him shuffling off responsibility," Mr. Rogers, the Michigan Republican, said Sunday on "State of the Union" on CNN.
The point is, these Republican skeptics aren't purist Paulite anti-interventionists. They're going to do a 180 and support intervention as soon as the war drums are being pounded by President Christie or President Walker or, for that matter, President Paul (who sometimes talks more like a neocon than like a committed isolationist).
So relax, old-school hawks. This isn't about principle. It's purely situational.