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Obama Unlikely to Seek Congressional Approval for Expected Syria Strike

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Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 11:08 AM

By John Gizzi

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Signs are growing that President Obama will not seek Congressional approval for what is expected to be a joint venture by the U.S. with NATO allies to strike against the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.

White House press secretary Jay Carney dodged repeated questions throughout the hour-long news briefing late Monday afternoon about whether the president would seek Congressional approval for a strike.

"When it comes to Congress, we're consulting with Congress and will continue to do that," Carney told reporters.

Asked whether "you need Congress to act on anything," Carney replied, "Again, I don't want to speculate about what Congress might do when we haven't reached a decision."

Pressed further as to whether it is fair to say "consult with Congress" translates to "does not mean having Congress authorize something," Carney simply said, "I think that's a statement objectively of fact that you've made."

At one point during the briefing, a reporter pointed out to Carney that a spokesman for the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee told CNN "there has been no consultation."

Carney replied that "there are quite a number of members [of Congress] who have a specific interest in this matter. And I can assure you that we will consult with Congress. We have consulted with members and we'll continue to do that, both here, from the White House, and from State and other agencies as these days progress.

It appeared that a coalition to strike against Syria would include the United Kingdom and France. The Telegraph reported that "British Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalize a list of potential targets" in Syria.

Over the weekend, Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande about Syria. On Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters: "All options on how to respond to the poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs were still open. The only one that is not on the table is to not do anything."

One German source told Newsmax that it was likely Berlin would provide "technical and logistical support" for a NATO-based Syrian strike. The same source said that nothing more would be forthcoming in a proposed strike against Syria because "the chancellor [Angela Merkel] is leading in the polls and the election [September 22] is coming up soon."

As if to prepare Israel for news that something was in the making regarding Syria, the White House confirmed Monday that National Security Advisor Susan Rice was meeting with Israeli officials for discussions "on Iran, Egypt, Syria, and a range of other regional security issues."

Several reports have likened the pending action to "Operation Noble Anvil" of March 1999, when NATO launched a bombardment campaign against what was then Yugoslavia.

Much as the reports of chemical weapon use by the Assad regime have led to calls for intervention on humanitarian grounds, reports in January 1999 of the killing of 45 Kosavar Albanians in the Racak Massacre by Serbian security forces led to similar calls for a NATO strike against the Serb-led Yugoslavian government.

As is the situation regarding Syria today, there was no U.N. Security Council resolution calling for action against Yugoslavia and then-President Bill Clinton did not seek congressional authorization for U.S. participation in NATO's "Noble Anvil."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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