There has been some hope that the ongoing debate in Parliament might delay any attack on Syria, but that appears not to be the case. NBC News reports:
The delay means Britain – a key military ally for President Barack Obama’s administration – is unlikely to join military action until at least next week, following a second House of Commons vote.
Obama has not yet decided whether to press ahead with action, but Pentagon officials insist strikes are likely “within days” and that the U.S. was “past the point of no return” on the issue – suggesting Washington was prepared to act unilaterally.
While it goes without saying that Obama should seek Congressional authorization first before ordering strikes on Syria, it seems clear that he has no intention of doing so. Notably, Cameron is under no legal obligation to hold a debate or vote on military action, but he is politically not as free to commit British forces overseas as the president here has been for decades. As a legal matter, Obama does need Congressional authorization before ordering attacks on Syria, but politically he can ignore it without any difficulty.
Why would Obama feel compelled to go to Congress at this point? Other allied legislatures held debates and votes on the Libyan war, but Congress didn’t and hardly anyone in either party seemed to care. It is encouraging that there is more of an outcry this time against Obama’s readiness to wage war illegally, but where was this concern two years ago when it might have mattered? In the end, nothing ever came of Obama’s decision to wage an eight-month war entirely on his own abused authority, nor did Clinton’s decision to ignore Congress over Kosovo ever have any consequences for him. The bad precedents have already been set by those interventions. Obama probably assumes that he can safely ignore Congress on this question, since he flagrantly did so with a much longer and larger military intervention and suffered no real backlash. It would be most welcome if Congressional leaders bothered to object to being sidelined and ignored on this issue, but it would be truly shocking and unusual if they did.