WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama paused his march to war and kicked the ball to Congress on Saturday as he is seeking Congressional approval for a military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for its purported use of chemical weapons.
The United States should use force against Syria but would wait for a vote from lawmakers, who will return to session on Sept. 9 after a summer break, Obama said following days of slipping support for military action both in Congress and foreign capitals.
The first and perhaps the most fundamental obstacle facing Obama is the international community. Obama has pursued a strategy of disengagement in the 29 months since Syrian civil war broken out, and did little to induce peace and reconciliation in that country.
Suddenly, barely two weeks ago, word spread in Washington that the United States will strike Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons. Obama's lack of commitment before and sudden interest puzzled many, and his administration's evidence presented Friday against Bashar al-Assad regime were also seen by many as not as persuasive as to justify military action.
That distrust and suspicion took many forms. Traditional U.S. allies, such as Britain, Canada and Germany, decided to sit out the military action. NATO is no show, and the Arab League unwilling to publicly endorse a strike, let alone participate. Only France and Turkey are willing to go along.
In the United Nations, the United States is unlikely to get a Security Council authorization for use of force. Russia and China are both for political resolution. Russia has publicly doubted the validity of the evidence presented by the U.S. side, demanding that Washington provide proof rather than taking rash action.
The international suspicion is not unfounded, given the intelligence debacle 10 years ago presented by the United States to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Inside the United States, a war-weary public is Obama's main obstacle before any military strike.
Opinion polls consistently put those in support of the strike in the minority, and Obama's no-boots-on-the-ground policy didn't help much, considering the initial success of the no-boots-on-the- ground Libyan campaign and later the Benghazi attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Low public support even led to revolt inside Obama's own Democratic Party.
Barbara Lee, a Democratic Representative from California, distributed a letter among liberal Democrats in Congress, asking for Congressional debate on Syria. Between Lee's letter and another similar letter distributed by Republican Representative Scott Rigell, over 190 Congress members signed their names.
With hurdles seemingly too great to overcome, and results of military action hard to foresee, Obama chose a way out by kicking the ball to Congress.