President Obama announced from the White House on Saturday that the United States has decided to use military force against Syria. His administration had been signaling that it was considering offshore, limited strikes against Syria since President Bashar al-Assad's forces allegedly launched a chemical weapons attack against his own people last week.
“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose,” Obama said, adding that the plan was “not time-sensitive” and that an attack could come “tomorrow, next week or a month from now.” He reiterated his case that Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons was so beyond the pale that the U.S. has an obligation to respond, if only to deter future chemical weapons use. He added, though, "This has implications beyond chemical warfare."
The administration's plan has encountered serious setbacks already before being formally announced Saturday. Britain announced it would not join in the strikes after a shocking vote by Parliament on Thursday not to approve the action. Members of Congress have appeared skeptical, and U.S. public support is low. Obama said he would seek congressional approval, but it's not clear what would happen if lawmakers vote against him.
The administration has repeatedly emphasized that it is seeking a political, not a military, solution to the conflict and that it has no interest in "boots on the ground" or any other open-ended engagements. Given that this is Obama's first response to the Syrian conflict after two years and more than 100,000 dead, it's hard not to believe him.