President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement about Syria in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. • AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
The United States is prepared and "should" take military action against Syria, President Barack Obama said Saturday afternoon in a Rose Garden speech.
But before acting, Obama will ask for congressional approval, although he maintained he does not need to.
"After careful deliberation I have decided the United States should take military action against Syrian targets," Obama said. "I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons."
Obama's comments came as the United States edged closer to a new conflict in the Middle East. The president spent Saturday trying to shore up domestic and international support for a military strike to punish the Syrian government for a chemical attack that killed more than 1,400 of its own citizens.
The White House scheduled briefings for both parties in the Senate by phone on Saturday and in person on Capitol Hill for any lawmakers in town at 2 p.m. on Sunday, The New York Times reported.
President Obama has faced bipartisan criticism over his approach to the Syrian crisis. Some lawmakers maintained that the United States should stay out of a civil war that has already cost more than 100,000 lives, or at least should wait for congressional or United Nations backing. Others complained that the limited strike envisioned by the president would be ineffectual, especially after days of virtually laying out the plan of attack in public.
In seeking congressional approval President Obama follows the precedents of other former commanders-in-chiefs. President George H.W. Bush won narrow approval in January 1991 for the Gulf War, to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. In October 2002 President George W. Bush won approval from Congress for the Iraq war, launched five months later, and which ended Saddam Hussein's regime.
Still, it's a risky political move for President Obama, considering skepticism over military action in Syria. And in Great Britain this week Prime Minister David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote on Syria. Cameron said after that the vote essentially cut off the option of military participation by England.
Politix, and via The New York Times.