OBAMA LEAVING DOOR OPEN TO SYRIA STRIKE IF CONGRESS BALKS

Fox News on September 6, 2013, commented on the question if Congress votes “no,” will the US president go ahead with a military strike anyway? Excerpts below:

Reflecting the air of uncertainty around the whole Syria operation, both Obama and a top spokeswoman appeared to walk back the comments of a key adviser who suggested Obama would back down if Congress votes “no.

“There is no change in our position. As the president has said, he has the authority to act, but his intention is to do so with the approval of the Congress,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

But as the projected “no” votes piled up and it has forced the administration to contemplate that scenario more seriously. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid formally introduced the use-of-force resolution, teeing up a vote for next week. He said he thinks he can round up the 60 votes likely necessary to pass it; but the House is seen as a bigger challenge.

In what initially appeared to be a concession to the authority of Congress, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said that the president did not intend to act without lawmakers’ support.

“The president of course has the authority to act but it’s neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him,” he said on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Obama, when asked shortly afterward about his adviser’s claim on his “intention” not to act without Congress, asserted: “I don’t think that’s exactly what he said.”

Obama also said “it would be a mistake for me to jump the gun and speculate” when asked if he would act without congressional support.

Hayden reiterated the president’s remarks when asked for clarification: “As he said in Sweden, he believes they will vote to authorize the use of military force. I’m not going to speculate on the president’s decision-making if they don’t approve; we think they will,” she said.

The text of the resolution itself very clearly leaves the president a rhetorical opening to pursue a strike on his own. The opening of the resolution states “the president has authority under the Constitution to use force in order to defend the national security interests of the United States.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who has said he thinks the resolution will pass, predicted that Obama — like British Prime Minister David Cameron — would not proceed if the resolution fails.

“Here’s my prediction. If Congress votes no, he’s not gonna do it,” Bolton told Fox News on Friday. “He would require a character transplant to stand up against a congressional vote.”

[Obama] announced that he plans to address the nation on September 10, to explain to the American people his rationale for military action.

…the president stressed that any U.S. involvement in Syria would be “limited.” The president said that if the Rwandan genocide were happening now, “it probably wouldn’t poll real well” either.

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