Amidst the emotional flurry over Syria’s alleged usage of chemical weapons on its own people, Senator Rand Paul (R,Ky), according to Fox News on Hannity, commends President Obama for waiting to seek Congressional approval before launching an air strike on Syria in retaliation for these alleged actions. In light of past Presidential military actions which involved the United States in unilateral military action abroad, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War, President Obama’s pursuit of Congressional approval for air strikes on Syria would appear to be refreshing to some observers.
In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson sought widespread Congressional approval for military action in Southeast Asia “anywhere” it was “necessary.” The resolution was passed and was opposed by only two United States Senators. However, the resolution was later perceived as much too broad and criticized because it was not a specific declaration of war against North Vietnam. Therefore the Vietnam War, which took more lives than any other war in United States history, (58,151) was an considered an undeclared war.
It is important to point out, however, that President Obama is not seeking a declaration of war against Syria; but rather is seeking Congressional authorization for a use of force against Syria. Obama has said that he has the authority to take such military action “without Congressional approval” but that he is seeking such approval “because it is the right thing to do.” In light of Obama’s comments, most observers believe that Obama will in fact launch the air strike even if Congress votes not to approve it which calls into question his motives for seeking the approval in the first place.
It is not clear whether or not Obama’s military action will be followed up with a formal declaration of war at a later date. In any event, the Congressional vote on the military action will have to wait over a week until Congress returns from its vacation recess on September 9th. Some Congressional leaders are highly critical of Obama for not being more decisive in taking the actions that he is allowed to take as Commander-in-Chief without Congressional approval, including airstrikes.
September promises to be a very busy month for Congress, the White House and the Pentagon as Congress returns from vacation and immediately jumps into the saddle and Obama struggles to be taken seriously by international leaders. All this fervor is amidst an additional ten days that Syria has to plan more chemical attacks and military actions while Obama, our Commander-in-Chief, waits for Congress to return from vacation to vote to allow him to do the job for which he already has taken the Oath of Office.