Mark your calendar: Aug. 28, 2013. That was the day the roof fell in on President Obama. Our closest ally, Congress, the media and our military demonstrated their utter contempt for him. He has tried to avoid the world and U.S. involvement in it, so, naturally, his sudden call to arms (however weak and unsatisfactory) has provoked waves of skepticism.
In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron was “deserted by rebels in his own Conservative Party [and] lost a parliamentary vote for provisional authorization for military action in Syria.” The White House vowed to go it alone, an ironic outcome for Obama, who berated his predecessor for failing to work with multi-lateral bodies.
President Bush, if you recall, assembled a coalition of the willing for Iraq, involving not only the United States and Britain, but also 47 other countries. Obama apologists can blame Iraq or President Bush all they like for the Parliament’s rejection, but it is Obama who has refused to address the public and continually signaled his lack of concern for the outcome in Syria. This is as much his defeat as it is Cameron’s.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pleading with the president to explain his rationale and the extent of his commitment. Again, the irony is hard to miss. The president contends he has all the executive power he needs to act without congressional authorization. John Yoo, the Bush Justice Department lawyer who wrote the controversial memos on enhanced interrogation techniques, tries to explain to grouchy Republicans that the Constitution leaves it to Congress to authorize war but allows the president to act as needed as commander in chief.
In my view, Obama and Yoo are right about the Constitution, but Congress is justified in insisting the president explain himself. Both parties lack understanding of his policy (or whether he even has one) and don’t trust his judgment. He failed to make the case because he did not want to involve the United States in Syria (he ends wars, you see) and does not seem convinced of the strategic importance of Syria.
Read more: washingtonpost.com