Recommended reading on the potential military strike on Syria: A Very Wise Decision by Obama – James Fallows – The Atlantic.
Fallows had been arguing that it was in Obama’s best interest to seek a vote in Congress, but like the rest of us had been resigned to the fact that it probably wasn’t going to happen, since Presidents of both parties tend to fall in the pattern of wanting to preserve their right to take military action unilaterally. Some of the analysis this morning emphasizes the potential embarrassment Obama could suffer if his request for military authorization fails. Fallows emphasizes the extent to which many of those in Congress calling for a vote were hoping he would ignore them so “they could complain about his arrogant imperial overreach now, plus themselves avoid taking what can only be a difficult vote.”
I haven’t figured out the right thing for the country to do in this horrible situation. There is something perverse about making distinctions about good ways to kill people and bad ways to kill people (drones and cruise missiles: good; chemical weapons: bad). And yet if the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons were to become routine, we would condemn those who had failed to stop it from happening.
Either way, waiting another week to do a national gut check on whether the U.S. is willing to take this action won’t hurt. Our military will not lose the “element of surprise” — for that, the action would have had to come a week or more ago — and acting precipitously would not have been wise.