The president Saturday unexpectedly delayed an airstrike against Syria as punishment for its alleged killing of civilians with chemical weapons, saying he would first seek approval from Congress.
In a speech Saturday, the president said he was previously advised against consulting legislators.
“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for UN inspectors. I’m comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralysed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable.
“As a consequence, many people have advised against taking this decision to Congress and undoubtedly they were impacted by what we saw happen in the United Kingdom this week when the Parliament of our closest ally failed to pass a resolution with a similar goal, even as the Prime Minister supported taking action.
“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this action without specific congressional authorisation I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective.”
“After careful deliberation I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets,” he said in an address to the nation. “This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground.”
He added: “Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope. But I am confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behaviour and degrade their capacity to carry it out.”
Obama said his most senior military advisor had told him an attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now” and added that he was willing to wait for the approval of Congress. He did not say whether he would launch military strikes if Congress voted against the measure.