Yesterday, President Obama surprised the nation and the world when he announced that he would seek the approval of Congress before launching cruise (presumably called that because they fly far and at a constant speed) missiles at Syria. At the New York Times, Mark Landler reports (emphasis added):
He had several reasons, he told [his staff], including a sense of isolation after the terrible setback in the British Parliament. But the most compelling one may have been that acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran.
If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it?
“He can’t make these decisions divorced from the American public and from Congress,” said a senior aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “Who knows what we’re going to face in the next three and a half years in the Middle East?”
President Obama, who has spent his two terms in office redefining the meaning of the word “disheartening” has surpassed himself yet again. He agrees to stop playing – in a role made famous by George W. Bush – the unitary executive for a day and seek Congressional approval for a strike on Syria. But, in possibly foregoing an attack on Syria, he’s saving his political capital for that rainy day he might seek to attack Iran.