At a news conference at the G20 Summit in Russia on Friday, President Barack Obama suggested he does not need the will of the American people behind him to take America to war against Syria.
Obama, who said he will address the nation on Tuesday about potential military strikes against Syria, said he considers it a part of his job to “help make the case and to explain to the American people exactly why I think this is the right thing to do.”
“And it’s conceivable that at the end of the day, I don’t persuade a majority of the American people that it’s the right thing to do,” Obama said. “And then each member of Congress is gonna have to decide, if I think it’s the right thing to do for America’s national security and the world’s national security, then how do I vote?”
Obama said that members of Congress ultimately have to make some decisions that their constituents do not support if they believe those decisions are “right for America”; he said the same applies to him.
“And that’s the same for me as president of the United States,” Obama said. “There are a whole bunch of decisions that I make that are unpopular, as you well know.”
Obama made his remarks just hours after White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken suggested that Obama may not be willing to attack Syria without congressional approval.
On NPR’s Morning Edition, Blinken said of Obama that it is “neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.”
Obama was asked about Blinken’s remarks on Friday and whether “it is not your intention to attack if Congress doesn’t approve it. Is he right?”
“I don’t think that’s exactly what he said, but I think I’ve answered — I’ve answered the question,” Obama said.
Obama also said that his asking Congress for authorization was not a “political ploy” or “symbolism.” He later noted he did not want to engage in “parlor games” when pressed again on whether he would take the country to war against Syria without congressional authorization.