This article by David Cole on Syria and Obama is worth reading:
‘Had Obama acted alone, he would have violated both the US Constitution, which requires prior congressional approval for a military intervention, and international law, which forbids the offensive use of force absent Security Council approval. Instead, he is now pursuing a path that accords with the rule of law, and may in fact be more effective at deterring further use of chemical weapons. Indeed, it may even prepare the way for a diplomatic strategy to end the underlying civil war.
The deliberation prompted by Obama’s appeal to Congress created the space for an alternative to force—precisely what the Constitution’s framers intended. While the Constitution makes the President Commander-in-Chief, it also makes clear that he can only run hostile military actions once they are authorized by Congress. The only exception to this requirement is when military action is necessary for the nation’s self-defense, and no one has suggested that a strike on the Syrian regime can be construed as an act of self-defense (even under the extraordinarily broad understanding of that concept that has been advanced by other presidents).
It’s true that other presidents have ignored the constitutional requirement to go to Congress. But in most instances, they argued that their actions fell within the “self-defense” exception, and did not assert the power to launch an offensive war unilaterally. In any event, past presidential violations of the Constitution hardly justify unconstitutional action today.
Obama’s decision to go to Congress reaffirms that the people’s representatives should have a say on the difficult issue of whether to use military force against another sovereign. (The administration covered its bases on the constitutional question by asserting that the president did not have to go to Congress, but it never made a plausible defense of that position.)
Some say that had Congress said no, which appeared increasingly likely, it would have been a death blow to the credibility of the Obama administration—and the presidency itself. Others have argued that such an outcome would insure that no future presidents seek Congressional authorization for acts of war.
(Read the complete article here.)
I understand that American presidents ask congress permission to wage war only if they suspect that congress will say yes. If they fear that congress will say no they will call the war self-defense, a war that is absolutely necessary to defend the nation.
It seems that Obama is exceptional for taking the American constitution seriously, at least on this matter.
So finally, there is an American president who takes the constitution seriously (from time to time) and then some people accuse him of weak-mindedness.
Apparently, the constitution is for softies, talk like a democrat – act as a dictator. (And keep the people stupid.)