President Barack Obama announced that he will consult the United States Congress on whether or not to order an attack on Syria. Obama has already made the decision that the American military will strike Syria, however, the president noted that no move will be made without a Congressional green light.
The decision to consult Congress on a possible strike came as a surprise to some considering the staunch push and aggressive campaign from Obama’s camp to justify a strike. Obama made the decision to do so “during a walk Friday evening with his chief of staff Denis McDonough.”
“Over the last several days, we have heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard,” the president said. “I absolutely agree.” Obama continued on saying that the strike would be “limited in scope and duration,” that he would “not put boots on the ground.”
Regardless of Obama’s true reasons for announcing the seeking of Congress’s counsel, that move is still the correct one. It’s reasonable to speculate that Obama made the decision because of the recent vote in the British parliament, ruling against Britain’s involvement. British Prime Minister David Cameron was also pushing for military intervention, but the British parliament voted the motion down.
Though many attribute the loss to Cameron’s weak political influence, the move to honor the parliament’s vote gives the British PM high marks in reasonableness, which he and Obama have both lost for even wanting to strike.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke recklessly about attacking Syria, however.
Yesterday, Kerry addressed the State Department in regards to possible American military action against Syria. Kerry noted in yesterday’s speech that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, “must be held accountable” for last week’s attacks.
During the speech, Kerry said “After a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am, too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.” Kerry continued the speech saying that “‘history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly’ if the United States does not respond to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government.”
Kerry is absolutely right. We are tired of war. We are tired of our loved ones being away from home for months and year on end. We are tired of funding a war that President Obama promised to pull our troops from but failed to do. And we still have so much energy and effort we need to focus on helping war-fatigued veterans readjust themselves to normal life.
Politicians from both parties have called for Obama to seek consult from Congress. A vote that kills the motion for a strike is crucial. Not only would an attack put a strain on military forces and dip into money that America does not have to fund a military campaign, there are also domestic political implications behind the Syria issue.
If Congress gives Obama the go-ahead and he succeeds in toppling al-Assad quickly and cleanly, he will get pats on the back. However, if this goes to deploying ground troops, it will be long and drawn out. And the GOP will have a strengthened chance of securing the White House in 2016, as they will have plenty of ammo to use against the Democrats, much like Obama did against the Republicans in 2008 in regards to Iraq.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.