September 4, 2013
Obama asks Congress for Syria authorization
President Barack Obama speaks to media alongside Susan Rice, National Security Adviser, left, and House Speaker John Boehner, center, in the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization for military action against Syria was a good one. The way he went about it was not.

He is only seeking buy-in from Capitol Hill because of public pressure to do so, not because he reached that conclusion on his own, either in anticipation of a serious Assad regime challenge or as part of a larger administration strategy for dealing with Syria and its enablers in the region. Obama’s decision was wholly reactive. That’s not reassuring behavior from a superpower’s commander in chief.

Clearly, the president was not ready to do something in Syria before the chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21. Thus, he had nothing to tell or ask of Congress or the American people. Instead, he let things unfold in Syria, prepared apparently for nothing, including that August slaughter. Now, at the 11th hour, before the cruise missiles start flying, Obama is seeking a green light from Congress to use military force to prevent or deter Syria from using chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the bloody two year conflict.

And if Syria, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, chooses to continue killing innocent civilians not with chemical weapons but with bombs, bullets, and blood, what then? Does the President, again anticipating nothing, sit back and wait to see what else unfolds? Does he continue making it up as he goes along? Does he call that leadership?