The Syrian drama appears to have no end at the moment. Yet even President Barack Obama said on Friday he would not speculate if he would go through with a military strike on Syria if Congress votes against it next week.
So the question becomes, why is the president asking for a vote if the outcome will have no effect on his final decision? At the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, he said, “I put it before Congress because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States.”
The situation becomes more confusing by the day and Obama, his White House staff and the State Department officials cannot seem to get on the same page together. It was obvious from President Vladimir Putin’s demeanor at the summit on Friday he finds Obama’s dilemma nothing more than amusement for the world.
To take the confusion a step further, Obama said “If there had been a direct threat to the United States or allies, he would have taken action without consulting Congress.”
Obama plans to make his case directly to the American people in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night. Hardly anyone in Washington thinks there is anything at this point that will change one vote in Congress on the question of a Syrian strike.
The president claims there is a “growing consensus” around the globe for action against Syria, but at present only France has provided token agreement. It could be said that the president has painted himself into a very tight corner and he has no one to blame but himself.
To make the entire mess more confusing, the president added there was disagreement about whether force could be used in Syria without going through the United Nations. If that is true, why has Obama requested a vote in Congress?
As an amused Russian President Vladimir Putin listened to Obama’s remarks, the president added, “The majority of the room is comfortable with our conclusion that Assad, the Assad government, was responsible for their use.”
Russia has blocked action at the United Nations to authorize a military attack against Syria, and Obama is seeking to rally support among U.S. allies. Putin is not backing down and Obama is finding little support from U.S. allies.
He again stressed that any action would be “limited both in time and in scope.” That has baffled many in Congress who question what his definition of “limited” means and the true test of this confusion will end when Congress votes for authorization to strike – whatever that truly means.
Tuesday night’s speech will be interesting to watch how the president explains the unexplainable to the American people.
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