When President Obama was a US senator, he said consistently that a president needs congressional approval before engaging in warring activities. I actually give him a pass for that misgiving for two reasons.First, it was one of the few times he actually took a stand on anything when he was a US Senator. And second, it is historically accurate that most folks who become president find out that the job is much different than they expected when they get in there – and thus, much of what they said prior is exposed as simple political posturing.
After he became president, his tune, however, certainly changed.He ordered our military to strike at Libyan air defenses and government forces without the approval of Congress. He sent them a letter. The letter said he did not need their approval because averting the humanitarian crisis in Libya was within the scope of our national security goals and interests.
I will not even go into the mess that that created (can you say “Benghazi?”).Then, he turned an eye to Syria. He had already drawn the red line and President Assad had already crossed it. But he drew it again….and Assad crossed it again.
So, Obama had to do something. He made a couple of calls to allies while at the same time directing his surrogates to leak that he would bomb Syria – without seeking congressional approval. Prime Minister Cameron got on board, called his legislators back from holiday and then abruptly disembarked after Parliament said “No.”Obama then took a walk with his Chief of Staff (yeah – that’s the guy who gives him political advice). He quickly decided that this situation was not so urgent, that he would seek congressional approval, and that he would wait a couple of weeks to give Congress a chance to hold hearings, hold floor debate, and vote.
When asked what Obama would do if Assad crossed the line a third time – while he is waiting for Congress to give him something he and most don’t think he needs – Secretary of State Kerry said he was sure Obama would act quickly and not wait for Congress to vote. What?I have heard others call this debacle “Amateur Hour.” However, I am a writer and love words. “Feckless” comes to mind…and maybe a little reckless too…