Panetta: We need international approval to join a military coalition -- but maybe not Congress's approval

Via, stick with this until at least 2:40, when things start to heat up, through 3:30 when the absurdity is fully revealed. His point about international approval is mundane: If we decide to act in Syria as part of a coalition, then there needs to be some sort of joint international resolution laying out the scope of the mission. To which Sessions replies, how come there didn’t need to be a resolution passed by Congress approving American intervention in Libya? We all know the answer to that, as does Panetta, which is why he’s reduced to mumbling here about maybe “informing” Congress of their plans if and when the time comes. The One doesn’t recognize the War Powers Act — even though his own lawyers do. If he wants to bomb Syria, he’ll bomb Syria, and Congress will get a heads up about it at some point and that’s that. Sessions is trying to get the SecDef to commit to seeking an AUMF before our next excursion but he simply won’t do it because he knows his boss doesn’t operate that way. Why hand the GOP a useful soundbite when he can take a dump on Congress’s prerogatives over warmaking instead?

Speaking of which, we’re getting closer:

Last week, a group of senior Obama administration officials met to finalize a package of options for aiding both the internal and external Syrian opposition, to include providing direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition, two administration officials confirmed to The Cable. This meeting of what’s known as the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council set forth a new and assertive strategy for expanding U.S. engagement with Syrian activists and providing them with the means to organize themselves, but stops short of providing any direct military assistance to the armed opposition…

“These moves are going to invest the U.S. in a much deeper sense with the opposition,” one administration official said. “U.S. policy is now aligned with enabling the opposition to overthrow the Assad regime. This codifies a significant change in our Syria policy.”…

“The decision has been made at the next [international] Friends of Syria meeting to not oppose any proposals to arm the FSA and we’re not going to publicly or privately message on that,” the official said. “We’re not going to publicly or privately tell the Friends of Syria not to do this.”

Humanitarian aid now, plus a tacit green light for the Gulf states to start sending weapons in earnest to whoever it is that’s shooting back at Assad’s shock troops. And what happens if Assad refuses to let humanitarian aid into the country? No word on that yet, but coincidentally WaPo has a new report out tonight on Obama authorizing “initial U.S. planning” for intervening in Syria, which, per Gen. Dempsey, means assessing “potential missions, the enemy order of battle,” the number of troops available, and how much time all of this would take. I wonder how long the lag will be this time between O’s decision to act and his report to Congress officially informing them that we’re at war again. Hope he remembers to include the bill.

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