Seeking congressional authorization over military involvement in Syria is undoubtedly one of President Obama’s biggest gambles. Congress has given Obama startlingly few legislative victories of late and, as a result, the move to send such a volatile decision to the House has surprised many commentators.
Much of the surprise around the President’s decision stemmed from the timing of the decision. It appeared as though military mobilization was almost inevitable at the end of August, with missiles ready and prepared for launch in the region. Since then, however, a lack of clarity from the UN Security Council and a lack of global will for action means that military action has taken a more peripheral role.
Creating a Political Coalition:
It has become increasingly clear that President Obama will have to create a coalition on Capitol Hill in order to succeed; something his ally David Cameron failed to do in Britain.
His campaign, however, got off to a good start on Monday as he gained support from John McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina); two prominent Republican senators who will be vital in creating the aforementioned coalition.
The White House has revealed that President Obama ‘made clear his view that the failure to take limited action against Assad’ would ‘unravel the deterrent impact of the international norm against chemical weapons use.’
Congress is widely expected to vote on a resolution authorizing force within days of returning to Washington on the 9th of September, thus providing President Obama with very little time to build his coalition. As a direct result of this, members of Congress have cut their holidays short in order to be fully-briefed on the matter before the impending vote.
Pushing for Support:
Due to the incredibly tight timescale, the number of briefings and phone calls is expected to escalate rapidly as President Obama begins to lobby for support.
The supposed chemical weapons attack on the 21st August is the focus of many of these briefings, as the U.S. tries to ascertain whether they can find definitive proof as to whether President Assad did use chemical weapons when he killed over 1,400 people including 400 children.
Redrafting and Refining the Legislation:
U.S. lawmakers' reservations are already surfacing about Mr. Obama's resolution, which seeks the use of force in Syria ‘as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction’.
In order to ease tensions and allay fears, Obama’s resolution is already being redrafted in the Senate.
There are two main concerns that lawmakers have over the current draft of the resolution and, as a result, aides are trying to reword the resolution so that it includes:
- A ban on committing U.S. ground troops
- A set expiration date for authorization
Democrat Chris Van Hollen stated that he felt as though the resolution was needed redrafting because it ‘is very loosely written and needs to be narrowed in a number of ways that relate to scope of action and duration'.
Obama, McCain and Graham, however, all share the view that U.S. ground troops shouldn’t be deployed in the region and, as a result, even some of the Democratic Party's most anti-Obama members seem to be giving the administration a chance to make its case.
How the Markets are Responding:
A lack of immediacy in intervention has seen markets calm and the dollar strengthen slightly against a basket of currencies including the yen.
Despite early volatility in the markets as the situation escalated, we have seen a significant calming due to the small scale nature of intervention if we see any at all.
For full market reaction and up to the minute information on how this might change, visit a forex broker for analysis of market trends.