President Barack Obama said Saturday that the United States “should” take military action in Syria, but that he would seek approval for such action from Congress.
“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said in a statement at the Rose Garden.
Obama said he is “ready to act,” and he is challenging Congress to follow his lead. He maintained that he does not need to seek military approval, repeatedly citing the atrocity of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on its own people.
“We lead with the belief that right makes might. Not the other way around,” Obama said. “Now’s the time to show the world that America keeps our commitments.”
It was unclear, immediately, as to whether Congress would return immediately from its recess. Congress is not scheduled to be in session until Sept. 9. Obama is scheduled to hold various conference calls and briefings with members of Congress over the next two days.
The limited strike without “boots on the ground” would not be time-sensitive. It could happen “tomorrow, one week, or a month from now,” he said.
Obama’s comments follow a stern statement yesterday from Secretary of State John Kerry about the need for the “murderer” and “thug” Assad to be punished for the chemical weapons attacks on his own people.
For more than two years, the Obama administration has called for a regime change in Syria. But it didn’t support any military action until the latest chemical-weapons attack, which the U.S. says came from the Assad regime and killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.
The White House also released a declassified report Friday detailing with “high confidence” the assessment that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its people.
“We intercepted communications involving a senior official intimately familiar with the offensive who confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime on August 21 and was concerned with the U.N.inspectors obtaining evidence,” the report read.
Despite Obama’s insistence on action, he had faced growing calls for restraint from allies and members of Congress. On Thursday, the British House of Commons unexpectedly rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s motion for military action.