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Obama playing high-handed with Syria when he should be consulting Congress

President Obama shows his intention to freelance in foreign policy again without the advice and consent of Congress. The implication in his remarks today is that events might happen so fast that he won’t have time to call them. That’s bologna.

Obama and war powers
Mark Wilson / Getty Images.

Justin Sink has the story at The Hill. Now, the President said that he will “coordinate and consult with Congress”. What he won’t do is ask “Mother may I?” in the event that he decides to strike in Syria. That seems unnecessarily weaselly in times like these.

The President made a distinction. There are two possible targets in Syria.

  1. Bashar al Assad and his government
  2. Islamic State

He has already asked Congress to approve his striking Assad at will. He has not asked Congress to strike ISIS. If he did, he would likely get it. If he met with senior congressional leaders to explain his foreign policy including consideration for military use, he would probably be welcomed. He could do that under the guise of secrecy too, if he wants.

So what’s up with the President playing games when he could be demonstrating high competence, collaboration and consensus building? He is just being arrogant is what one might conclude. He is a lame duck on a rant, it appears.

As written in a different article this afternoon on a related subject, now might be the time to have a conversation with Assad and the moderate rebel faction to see if there are any new diplomatic options emerging.

“White House won't commit to asking Congress for Syria strike

By Justin Sink - 08/25/14 03:13 PM EDT

The White House on Monday refused to commit to asking for congressional authority for airstrikes in Syria.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest emphasized that President Obama has made no decision on launching airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters based in Syria.

He added that Obama is “committed to coordinating and consulting with Congress,” but said the president “will not hesitate to use his authority” to keep Americans safe.

Earnest also insisted that strikes on ISIS positions in Syria being contemplated by the administration were “a different situation” from the strikes on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces that the administration asked Congress to approve almost exactly one year ago.

“What we're talking about now is not about the Assad regime, but about this threat that's posed by [ISIS] that's operating both in Iraq and in Syria,” Earnest said.

ISIS is battling Assad as part of its attempt to form an Islamist caliphate across territory currently held by Syria and Iraq.

U.S. strikes have already been made against ISIS in Iraq.
Obama made a surprising decision last year to ask for Congress’s authority for strikes against Assad.

He explained his decision by saying that the country would be “stronger” if he asked for Congress’s approval.

“I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions,” Obama said at the time. “And neither were the members of the House and the Senate.””

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