The civil war in Syria has become a high-stakes political gamble for President Obama and for the United States Congress.
For the President, whatever happens in coming days as lawmakers return from their summer break to debate Obama’s plan to attack the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is likely to color if not define the rest of his last term in office – and beyond that, his presidential legacy.
For Congress – especially the Republican-led House – getting what they wanted on Syria will not be a walk in the park. Voting “yea” or “nay,” lawmakers now must assume co-ownership of US foreign policy in this most difficult and contentious part of the world at a time when the ghost of Iraq hovers about and most Americans are highly skeptical of anything that could involve them in another war.
Obama said he has the authority to act on his own, but believes it is important for the country to have a debate on the possible use of force.
He also said that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has informed him that they are prepared to strike whenever they choose.
Obama’s remarks come after his top national security advisers gathered at the White House for talks, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Friday, the administration released an intelligence report concluding that the Syrian government killed more than 1,400 people last week in a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus.