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Obama REFUSES to rule out striking Syria without approval of Congress
President Obama today refused to rule out attacking Syria without the backing of Congress, as new polls show he faces a crushing defeat in any vote in the House of Representatives.
An ABC News reporter at the G20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, tried to pin him down and get a ‘direct response’ to the question of what he will do if his gamble seeking congressional approval fails.
‘I’m not going to engage in parlor games now … about whether or not it’s going to pass,’ he said.
But while he acknowledged knowing his Syria gambit with Congress was ‘going to be a heavy lift’ all along, the president insisted that he didn’t ‘put this before Congress just as a political ploy or as symbolism.’
Obama also announced that he will make his case on Syria to the American people again on Tuesday in a national address.
His comments in St. Petersburg were his final statement at the economic summit, which adjourned without reaching any conclusions about how world leaders should deal with an increasingly hostile and self-destructive Syria.
Obama’s speech on Tuesday will make a final pitch to the American people, whom he hopes will begin supporting his plan to cripple Syria’s access to its chemical weapons stockpiles.
‘It’s conceivable at the end of the day I don’t persuade a majority of the American people that it’s the right thing to do,’ Obama conceded Friday. ‘And then each member of Congress is going to have to decide.’
Polls show that few Americans agree that it’s in America’s national interest to get involved in a civil war that has already left 100,000 people dead and turned another 2 million into refugees.
Obama’s continued lobbying came as staffers to Republican and Democratic congressmen told MailOnline they believed the vote in the House was, so far, ‘dead in the water.’
But a senior aide today added to the confusion over Obama’s strategy. n
White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, told National Public Radio o Friday morning that although Obama has the power to act on his own, he has no plan to pull the trigger if he loses a Capitol Hill vote.
It is ‘neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority, absent Congress backing him,’ Blinken said.
Even as public opinion tilts dramatically against him, Obama said in Russia that America has acted militarily in unpopular ways in the past when it was ‘the right thing to do.’
He cited coming to Great Britain’s defense in World War II, and attacking Kosovo during the Clinton administration.
If Obama has already decided to leave the final decision on Syria to Congress, his Tuesday address may be a foregone conclusion.
Senior staffers to Republican and Democratic members of Congress told MailOnline that while the president’s war powers resolution may pass in the Senate, it’s hopelessly lost – ‘big time, end of story,’ said one – in the House of Representatives.