President Barack Obama said today that he would seek congressional approval for any strike against Syria, which will delay any strike until at least mid September when Congress reconvenes.
After announcing that he believes the United States should use military action in Syria, Obama declared that he “will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.” He did note, “I believe I have the authority to carry out this action without specific congressional authorization,” but said he thought “our country will be stronger” and “our actions will be even more effective” with congressional approval.
The president said he had spoken Saturday morning with “all four congressional leaders,” and that they had agreed to schedule a debate and a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session. Congress is scheduled to reconvene on September 9.
The president explained that any strike will not be an “open-ended intervention” and will be “limited in duration and scope.” He noted that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs informed him that the military’s “capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive,” and a strike could be carried out at any time.
President Obama said he was confident in the case the U.S. government has made and would not wait on U.N. inspectors. The United Nations Security Council, he said, has been “completely paralyzed and [is] unwilling to hold Assad accountable,” so that he feels “comfortable going forward” without U.N. authorization.
The president argued that a strike in Syria demonstrating disapproval of chemical-weapons use was key to maintaining the legitimacy of the international system, saying “this has implications beyond chemical warfare.”
“If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act,” he asked, “what does it say about our resolve in the face of others who flout international rules — to goverments who would choose to build nuclear arms?”