Obama Still Has Plans To Strike Syria, Without UK
In spite of growing domestic and international opposition to a punitive Western strike on Syria, President Obama continues to push for an imminent attack — even if he has to do it alone.
On Thursday afternoon, Obama lost the support of the United Kingdom after members of the British parliament voted down Prime Minister David Cameron's move to support the U.S. in a strike. White House officials said Thursday that Obama still has plans to push ahead with the strike as soon as possible, with or without international support.
The president and his aides are set to present their case for an immediate strike against the Western Asian country to government officials via conference call Thursday evening, citing President Bashar al-Assad's chemical attack last week that killed hundreds and poisoned thousands.
To drum up support, the president reportedly plans to release intelligence evidence that Assad conclusively did so, rather than the Syrian rebels Assad has blamed. China and Russia have warned that without sufficient evidence from U.N. investigators, a strike is premature. For this reason, the officials noted, Obama would likely not begin strikes until U.N. analysts returned from their Syria expedition, which is expected to happen Saturday.
Such an attack would act as a deterrent rather than as a means of destabilizing the regime, Obama said on PBS Newshour Wednesday. "We have not yet made a decision," he said, "but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place."
Obama's emphasis on "norm" rather than "law" is deliberate, since there is no legal reason for the U.S. to punitively strike Syria, and in fact, legal barriers stand in his way. Dozens of House Reps have pointed out that launching military action without consulting Congress would be to broach federal law.
Obama, however, is set to attempt to prove to both lawmakers and the public that this is indeed a "state of emergency" — a clause that would legally allow him to approve military invasion without congressional oversight.