President Obama finds himself in a difficult situation concerning Syria. He's on record as saying that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used poison gas on the rebels, the U.S. would be forced to act. It was crossing that red line that Obama said would demand retaliation.
Apparently that red line has been breached, and now the U.S. has to weigh whether to begin raining bombs onto key Assad positions.
The matter took an odd turn on Thursday when Britain — America's closest ally — said it wouldn't be joining in the attack. Prime Minister David Cameron would've probably lined up with Obama as Tony Blair followed President Bush into Afghanistan and Iraq. But Parliament said no.
That brings up Congress' role. Since it is the only body that can declare war, Obama should consult with Congress about what he's going to do. But he didn't take Congress into consideration when he dropped bombs on Libya. He cited the War Powers Act of 1973, which allows the president to begin a military action if he informs Congress within 48 hours after the action begins. Congress then has 60 days to approve the action. After 60 days and absent congressional approval, the troops must be withdrawn.
Obama can begin his attack. The question is, should he? In the last 12 years, the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and launched a bombing campaign on Libya. Syria will be the fourth country that feels the shells of U.S. military might. This doesn't include drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.
By most objective criteria, the U.S. forcing its hand in these countries has not brought more stability to the region nor has it brought the countries closer to democracy, which is always the stated goal. It's safe to say that interference in Syria will produce no lasting positive effect as long as Assad is in power. But even if he's taken out, there are no guarantees.