OBAMA TO GIVE CONGRESS A VOTE ON MILITARY STRIKES ON SYRIA – Did President Barack Obama just throw David Cameron a bone?
From this chair it certainly appears to be the case. Only yesterday the U.S press was awash with the rhetoric that Britain was a coward for not standing with the U.S on possible military strikes on Syria.
Also the U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave a press conference where he referred to France as being its oldest ally – this is despite the fact that France refused to get involved in the war on Iraq.
Both the attacks on Britain was little more than sour grapes after the House of Commons stood together and told David Cameron that Britain will not and cannot engage in the Syrian conflict.
In what is an unprecedented move and some seeing as an apology from the U.S President, Obama issued a statement that the U.S would give Congress the opportunity to vote on any military strikes on Syria.
The U.S President, as Commander in Chief, is not required to give Congress a vote on any military action. It is, and will remain, the sole decision of any sitting President to give such an order that would take the U.S into war.
It would have been easy to admonish the Americans for their remarks but the truth is that the average Joe on the street probably sides with Britain’s stance that we should wait for clear and unequivocal evidence to be produced so that we do not engage in yet another illegal incursion upon a sovereign state.
There have been fears recently that Obama’s pledge to bring peace around the world was mere rhetoric and that he would turn out to be like Bush who craved bloodshed in order to cement his position as leader of the most powerful armed forces in the world.
It takes courage and strength to be able to stand back and examine the situation carefully and after last week’s heavily charged political debates, both in the U.S and Britain, on Syria it now appears that Obama is truly embracing the ideology of democracy by allowing Congress to have their say.
After Obama gave his speech reports quickly came in that Assad re-engaged Rebel forces and was again bombing the suburbs of Damascus, however these attacks stopped some five hours later.
Rebel leaders in Syria have expressed their anger that the U.S is not going to intervene and provide the military assistance they need to remove Assad from power.
Obama, during his speech, also directly referred to David Cameron’s decision to allow MPs in the House of Commons to vote on the issue and once again Obama referred to Britain as its closest ally; again reaffirming and cementing our ‘special relationship’.
As David Cameron received news of the President’s speech he took to his twitter account with a message to Barack Obama stating; “I understand and support Barack Obama’s position on Syria.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also tweeted; “A fine speech by the President of the United States on Syria.”
It looks like we are once again all playing nicely in the sandbox together.
So why did the President issue what can only be acknowledged as an apology? The truth is David Cameron was right to allow MPs to vote on the possibility of military action against Syria. We are supposed to be a democracy and no Government should be allowed to take such an action without a democratic vote.
It is worthy to note what the President had to say;
“While I believe I have the authority to carry out this action without specific congressional authorisation I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective.”
In other words if you purport to uphold the ideology of democracy then you must, at all costs, practice such an ideology.
This move certainly makes things easier at home in the Commons for David Cameron and whilst there may be many who feel it is right to attack Syria there are far more who think it is not.
Despite the speech in support of David Cameron, Barack Obama still believes that the U.S should strike Syria. Contrary to Obama’s stance Vladimir Putin yesterday again voiced Russia’s opinion that Assad using chemical weapons on his own people was absurd and that if UN weapons inspectors are allowed to do their job thoroughly then Russia is certain that the evidence will point to the Rebels.
Putin also went on to say that the U.S must provide the UN with clear and absolute proof that Assad did use chemical weapons against his own people before engaging in any military action against Assad.
The U.S has claimed, on a number of occasions, that it has the evidence and yet has said that such evidence is classified and cannot be presented to the public; a situation that Russia feels is highly suspicious.
The question now is; how well will the President fair in gaining Congressional permission? Currently the Republican controlled lower House of Representatives will almost surely deny permission but the Democratic Senate may well give him the yes vote; albeit a reluctant one.
Providing a Congressional vote does place President Obama in the precarious situation that David Cameron found himself in last week.
However let us put aside our egos and personal issues for this is democracy and it must be allowed to take its course.
If, and only if, the U.S is able to provide unequivocal proof that Assad was responsible for the chemical attack in Damascus then it must produce such evidence and if such evidence proves accurate then, and only then, will either Obama or Cameron be supported from not just Parliament and Congress but more importantly the people of Britain and the United States.