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The Battle for Syria

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Obama to Seek Congressional Approval for Syrian Military Strike

August 31st 2013


President Obama announced Saturday that he’s seeking congressional authorization for a limited military strike against Syria over the Bashar Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Syria.

Obama said he had made the decision that military action was justified by U.S. intelligence showing the use of chemical weapons. He also said he had the authority under his executive powers to launch an attack, but argued seeking the blessing of Capitol Hill was a better route.

“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said in the Rose Garden. “The country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be more effective,” Obama said. Obama said congressional leaders have agreed to schedule a debate and vote when Congress comes back into session. It is unclear whether Congress would grant authorization for a strike.

Polls suggest the country is split at best on the wisdom of military action against Syria, even to respond to the use of chemical weapons. And a host of lawmakers have raised reservations that range for whether the attacks would be successful, to whether they would draw the U.S. into a broader war.

Fatigue from the long conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have haunted efforts to win support for action against Syria in both the U.S. and Great Britain, where the British Parliament this week voted against using military force. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on Saturday that he expects the House to consider the measure the week of Sept. 9.

“This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security,” Obama said. “It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said, adding it endangers allies and could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons or their use by terrorist groups that could attack the U.S. “After careful deliberation I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” he said.

"This would not be an open-ended intervention, it would not put boots on the ground. Instead our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope, but I am 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,” Obama said.

“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 am prepared to give that order,” Obama said.

Prior to Obama's comments, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Saturday called on Obama to bring Congress back for a vote before any military action in Syria.

Ben Geman writes for The Hill, from where this article is adapted.

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