President Obama to seek congressional authorization for use of force in Syria

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

President Obama announced today that as commander-in-chief, he has decided that the U.S. should take military action against Syria for the use of chemical weapons against its civilian population in violation of the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). (Syria is one of only seven countries that have not signed the CWC). The President will seek congressional authorization for use of force in Syria. Statement by the President on Syria:

In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.

Now, after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United
States should take military action against Syrian regime targets.  This
would not be an open-ended intervention.  We would not put boots on the
ground.  Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration
and scope.  But I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable
for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and
degrade their capacity to carry it out.

Our military has positioned assets in the region.  The Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs has informed me that we are prepared to strike whenever
we choose.  Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our
capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be
effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.  And I'm
prepared to give that order.

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am
convinced is our national security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm
the President of the world's oldest constitutional democracy.  I've long
believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but
in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the
people.  And that’s why I've made a second decision:  I will seek
authorization for the use of force from the American people's
representatives in Congress. 

Over the last several days, we've heard from members of Congress who
want their voices to be heard.  I absolutely agree. So this morning, I
spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to
schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into
session.

Video below the fold.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today issued the following joint statement.

"Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with
Congress.  We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any
military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions
being raised.  In consultation with the president, we expect the House
to consider a measure the week of September 9th
.  This provides the
president time to make his case to Congress and the American people."

The opening of the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations is scheduled September 17, 2013. The president traditionally greets the opening session of the United Nations. There is no hope for a Security Council resolution, as Russia and China hold veto power.

It is not clear to me what is to be achieved by a limited air strike to punish Syria, much as President Reagan did to Libya in 1986 in response to a terrorist bombing in Berlin. 1986 United States bombing of Libya. Libya retaliated with more terrorism.

The Libyan government was alleged to have ordered the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Pakistan on September 5, 1986, which resulted in the deaths of 20 people. The Libyan government ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988, which exploded in mid-air and crashed on the town of Lockerbie in Scotland after a bomb set by Libyan agents detonated, killing all 259 people aboard, and 11 people in Lockerbie. The Libyan Government formally accepted responsibility for the Pan Am
Flight 103 bombing on 29 May 2002, and offered $2.7 billion to
compensate the families of the 270 victims.

UPDATE: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – a brief history of chemical weapons.

One response to “President Obama to seek congressional authorization for use of force in Syria

  1. Bruce Freiberg

    Under the UN Charter, which the US helped draft and to which we are a signatory, there are only two grounds for going to war: self defense and a UN Security Council resolution designating a country as a threat to world order. Obama has neither and a unilateral military strike by the US would be a violation of international law and a war crime. Do we only pretend there are rules or do they only matter when it suits our purpose? We looked the other way when it was proven that Israel illegally used white phosphorous on Gazan civilians, but now we are morally outraged by the unproven charges against Assad. It pretty much paints us as the hypocrites we are.