And so we come full circle in the Era of Hope and Change. Originally campaigning as an anti-interventionist and an internationalist, Barack Obama will address the nation to argue for starting a new war unilaterally — and to argue that the UN is useless. And he’ll do it on the day before the anniversary of 9/11 and Benghazi:
President Obama will speak to American people from the White House on Tuesday to make his case for military action in #Syria
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 6, 2013
BREAKING: Obama says he will address nation on Syria Tuesday, seeking Congress' OK for military action
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 6, 2013
Why not take the case to the UN first? Obama sounds a lot more like the conservatives he used to deride, even though George Bush at least forced the UN to answer for the issue of Iraq:
Pres. Obama says he would prefer to work through the UN in response to Syria, but it's "paralyzed, frozen and doesn't act."
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 6, 2013
That’s been true for decades, although it’s progress of a sort to see a progressive acknowledge it.
President Barack Obama says he will address the nation about Syria on Tuesday as he seeks public and congressional authority for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama wants to strike against the Syrian regime in response to a chemical attack on civilians last month that the Obama administration says was carried out by Assad’s military. Obama says failing to chemical weapons use would , quote, “send a signal to rogue nations.”
The question will be, of course, whether this will do any good at all. An Oval Office speech (or perhaps East Wing, but the Oval Office is the obvious choice) has great emotional impact, but then again, so does committing an act of war against a nation that hasn’t attacked us. Obama said in his presser that he knew the argument would be a “heavy lift,” but the polling shows a broad consensus in opposition to another American military adventure in the Middle East, perhaps especially one that has already demonstrated the kind of mission creep most Americans would fear.
What Obama hopes to get out of this speech may not be a big change in the electorate, but political cover for fellow Democrats who are publicly expressing skepticism over the authorization. That skepticism is being oversold as opposition when it’s really more a way to sell a later change as reluctant and necessary. Having the President ask for authorization is the one event in which those soft nays will become reluctant ayes. Watch for the whip counts to swing dramatically afterward — because if they don’t, this will become a de facto vote of no confidence in the Commander in Chief even among his own party.
Update: Here’s a transcript of Obama on UN Security Council paralysis:
Where there is a division has to do with the United Nations. You know, there are a number of countries that, just as a matter of principle, believe that if military action is to be taken, it needs to go through the U.N. Security Council. There are others — and I put myself in this camp, as somebody who is a strong supporter of the United Nations — who very much appreciates the courage of the investigators who have gone in and looks forward to seeing the U.N. report, because I think we should try to get more information, not less, in this situation — it is my view and a view that was shared by a number of people in the room that given Security Council paralysis on this issue, if we are serious about upholding a ban on chemical weapons use, then an international response is required, and that will not come through Security Council action.
And that’s where I think the division comes from. And I respect those who are concerned about setting precedence of action outside of a U.N. Security Council resolution. You know, I would greatly prefer working through multilateral channels and through the United Nations to get this done.
But ultimately, what I believe in even more deeply because I think that the security of the world, and my particular task, looking our for the national security of the United States, requires that when there’s a breach this brazen of a norm this important, and the international community is paralyzed and frozen and doesn’t act, then that norm begins to unravel. And if that norm unravels, then other norms and prohibitions start unraveling, and that makes for a more dangerous world, and that then requires even more difficult choices and more difficult responses in the future.
If that’s true, then why not force the UNSC to reject Obama and expose that paralysis? Why let Russia (and China, too) off the hook? George Bush did that much even though he had justification with twelve years of violations to the 1991 cease-fire and the genocidal acts of Saddam Hussein against both the Shi’ites and the Marsh Arabs. Politicians like Obama pilloried him as a cowboy unilateralist for moving forward after that with a coalition that was much larger than what Obama has right now, which consists of France and a handful of cheerleaders in the cheap seats.