President Obama announced on Saturday that he will ask Congress for authorization to launch military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military in response to his alleged use of chemical weapons last week.
Obama reiterated that the United States has concluded that Assad’s forces gassed civilians and opposition fighters in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21 and said “this menace must be confronted.”
“The United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” Obama said, adding that while he believes he has the authority as Commander-in-Chief to order strikes, he “will seek authorization for the use of force” from Congress. Obama also outlined what the campaign would entail, saying that any U.S. military action in Syria would not be an open ended intervention but one that is meant to hold Assad accountable and to deter him and degrade his ability from using chemical weapons in the future.
For the record, I am dead set against any action in Syria, even "limited" action (which is probably defined as a hundred or so Tomahawk missles fired from ships and jets).
But, echoing comments from Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, Obama asked: “what message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children and pay no price? … We are the United States of America. We cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus.”
The president also said that Congress will debate and vote on the authorization for force in Syria when it returns from the August recess. “I am ready to act in the face of this outrage,” he said. “Today I’m asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move forward together as one nation.”
I've already posted my opinion on Hawk Kerry, who is acting like a Secretary of War and not State. What a disgrace, and he seems completely oblivious to it.
But that's not the news. Today Obama put the GOP in a trick bag. Painted them into a corner. And they don't know whether to shit or wind their wristwatch.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, yesterday.
“There are potential repercussions,” Paul said on Fox News Channel. “If he launches this little piddly attack with a few cruise missiles, it won’t stop chemical weapons, but it may well insight a gas attack on Israelis. I think it’s a big mistake.”
Paul said that if military action is undertaken, it should only happen after Congress signs off.
Cong. Peter King of New York, today.
"President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief and undermining the authority of future presidents. The President does not need Congress to authorize a strike on Syria. If [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians deserves a military response, and I believe it does, and if the President is seeking congressional approval, then he should call Congress back into a special session at the earliest date. The President doesn’t need 535 Members of Congress to enforce his own red line."
The Senate will pass whatever the president wants -- and with Republican votes like John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- but there's enough anti-war liberals and tea partiers in the House that a resolution to strike Syria will probably fail (without lots of strings attached).
Can you imagine a tough-talking Republican -- like say, my Congressman, John Culberson -- trying to explain his vote when he gets primaried from the right?
If he votes 'yes'...he obviously can't criticize Obama for taking action. 'Support the president in a time of war' and all that. If he votes 'no'... he looks like a pussy. Bowing down to Assad.
To be certain, this has ALWAYS been the dynamic when military strikes are on the table. Hawks and doves, tough guys versus pantywaists. And a few other categories.
A 'no' vote isn't going to make Obama look bad, because he'll just fire the Tomahawks anyway if he feels like it (and he obviously does). See, he's not up for re-election next year. And besides, some Americans think war presidents are hot.
What Republicans are not grasping is that you have to be against war on moral principles, not because you're tired of fighting wars or because you don't want to spend any more money. You have to be against -- or for -- war no matter who's in the White House. Otherwise you just look like a partisan hypocrite.
Not that it bothers them to be one of those...
What's also disgraceful is John Boehner not calling the House back into session until September 9. TEN DAYS from now.
Nothing gets in the way of the Republican House avoiding work. Not even voting on military action in Syria.
House leaders issued a statement saying that “serious, substantive” questions were being raised regarding Syria and they are so glad that the President is asking them to vote because this is so important, constitution, blah blah – oh, and they are going to take the measure up on September 9th, which is another way of saying they are not coming back early from vacation for this “serious, substantive” matter.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today issued the following joint statement.
“Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress. We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised. In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”
Can you imagine if Democrats had told Bush they’d get back to him on Iraq when they were done with vacation?
This was to be expected by this House, after all, they are only planning on working 9 days in September.
Obama has bamboozled them. Every last one of them.
Update: The New York Times has the backstory on how it all went down, focusing just on the policy and not the politics.