President Barack Obama finally has decided to submit the decision on war with Syria to Congress. In doing so the president has placed a heavy burden on lawmakers, but one the Constitution insists they must bear.
Obama already has ordered the military to draw up plans for an attack, in retaliation for a chemical weapons assault the White House says was carried out by the Syrian government. Thousands of people, including hundreds children, died in the attack.
By the weekend, some lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, had spoken out in support of the president. Others, again of both parties, said they were firmly against attacking Syria. While thoughtful Americans may not agree with some points made on either side of the issue, let us hope the debate over war continues to be a bipartisan one.
Many factors, including how much proof there is the Syrian government used chemical weapons, must be considered. Also on lawmakers' minds should be the potential consequences of a U.S. cruise missile attack on Syria.
Very low on the priority list should be defending U.S. credibility. Obama indeed has said there would be serious repercussions if Syria used chemical weapons. In doing so, he painted the nation into something of a corner.
But voting for war primarily in order to defend any president's credibility is a terrible, dangerous idea. Members of Congress should weigh the pros and cons -- and do what is best for Americans.