President Obama will have to decide how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons soon, but whatever Obama does do, do not expect him to run it by Congress.
Calling Obama’s bluff
As The Weekly Standard‘s Lee Smith notes, Assad’s apparent use of chemical weapons on a Damascus suburb last week, comes almost exactly two years (August 18, 2011) after Obama called for Assad’s removal, and one year (August 20, 2012) after Obama warned that using chemical weapons would “change my calculus” on the issue. With a United Nations inspection team already ensconced in a luxury Damascus hotel when the attack occurred, it is hard not to conclude that Assad is inviting Obama to do his worst, in order to demonstrate to the rebels that the international community will not save them.
The usual suspects want war
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are already begging Obama to begin bombing. They released a joint statement Sunday, calling for immediate “limited military actions in Syria,” noting that “with each passing day, we run the growing risk that Syria’s vast caches of chemical weapons could be transferred to, or acquired by, forces that could pose a threat to the United States and our friends and allies.” No mention was made of the fact that the rebels in Syria hate the U.S. about as much as Assad’s regime does, especially the al Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra.
Don’t expect Obama to ask permission
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also supported war, but he at least thought Obama should ask permission from Congress first. “I think we will respond in a surgical way,” Corker told Fox News Sunday. “And I hope the president, as soon as we get back to Washington, will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with this kind of activity.”
But Congress has not passed a single resolution on the Syrian conflict since its inception two-and-a-half years ago, and a recent Reuters poll showed that not only do 60 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should not get involved, buy only 9 percent of Americans believe Obama should act.
Obama didn’t bother asking Congress’ permission to rewrite the federal government’s education policy. He didn’t ask permission to rewrite Obamacare, either. And he didn’t ask permission to bomb Libya. There is zero chance he will ask Congress if he can bomb Syria.
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