What influenced President Obama’s mercurial decision on military intervention in Syria? According to Michael Calderone, it may have been the editors and op-ed writers at the New York Times.
Calderone confirms that President Obama had an off-the-record meeting with Times editor Andy Rosenthal, members of the editorial board, and opinion columnists David Brooks, Gail Collins and Ross Douthat. The meeting took place on on August 29, the day before he reversed course and decided to postpone military intervention.
The meeting came amid the White House’s push for military intervention in Syria, one of the topics discussed that day. The Times editorial board hadn’t explicitly come out for or against a strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad before the meeting, and soon after the paper still expressed concerns about the administration taking action without congressional approval and broad international support.
Calderone goes on to paint a picture that shows the Obama Administration taking the lead of the Times editorial board as his Syria policy took shape the last weekend of August, including the dramatic, last-minute decision to seek congressional approval on military intervention.
In an editorial posted online Aug. 30 and in the next day’s paper, Times editors wrote that “even in the best of circumstances, military action could go wrong in so many ways; the lack of strong domestic and international support will make it even more difficult.”
Later that evening, President Obama reversed course and announced he would take the issue to Congress.