AP: “For President Barack Obama’s new foreign policy advisers, the first test of their willingness to undertake military action wound up being a stark lesson in the president’s ability to overrule them all. Obama’s abrupt decision to seek congressional approval before striking Syria also overshadowed what had been a surprising level of consensus among the second-term team members about how to respond to a deadly chemical weapons attack against civilians in Syria.”
USA Today: “Barack Obama may not be the only president that Congress hears from on the Syria issue. Russia President Vladimir Putin has proposed sending a delegation of Russian lawmakers to lobby the U.S. Congress against a military strike on Syria.”
“As the administration accuses the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, three key members of Obama's team are scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey,” USA Today writes. “The president met Monday with a pair of Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both GOP lawmakers expressed grudging support for the administration's plans for Syria. Obama's lobbying effort goes global later in the week” when he heads to Sweden ahead of the G-20.
Taunting from Assad… the Syrian leader accused Obama of being “weak” in the French paper Le Figaro, translated by The Telegraph: "If Obama was strong, he would have said publicly: 'We have no evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian State'. He would have said publicly: 'The only way to proceed is through UN investigations. We therefore refer everything to the Security Council.' But Obama is weak because he is facing pressure from within the United States.”
He also claimed the U.S. and France have no proof he used chemical weapons. "Whoever accuses must provide proof. We have challenged the United States and France to provide the slightest proof. Obama and Hollande have been incapable (of doing so) even to their own people.” He argued, “Supposing our army wishes to use weapons of mass destruction. Is it possible that it would do so in a zone where it is located and where (our) soldiers were wounded by these arms, as United Nations inspectors have noted during visits to hospitals where they were treated? Where is the logic?”
He warned: "Nobody knows what will happen (after such strikes). Everyone will lose control of the situation when the powder keg explodes. Chaos and extremism will spread. The risk of a regional war exists.”
Fareed Zakaria: “Whatever your views on the larger issues, it’s hard not to conclude that the administration’s handling of Syria over the last year has been a case study in how not to do foreign policy.” Obama “announced just over two years ago that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria had to go. Now a pundit can engage in grandiose speech. The president of the United States should make declarations like this only if he has some strategy to actually achieve them. He did not.” More: “The manner in which the Obama administration has first created and then mismanaged this crisis will, alas, cast a long shadow on America’s role in the world.”
Charlie Cook: “The last few days specifically, have not been a pretty sight.” But he adds, “Putting aside the substantive policy question of whether we should or should not punish Syria for its apparent use of chemical weapons with a surgical and proportionate attack…what if he just changed his mind? Are president's allowed to second-guess themselves and change their minds if they conclude that a previous or tentative decision was made in error? Some might suggest that the country would have been better served had President Lyndon Johnson acted on what we are now learning of his own increasing reservations about the wisdom of the Vietnam War. Should glands trump brains and judgment?”
Politico’s lede: “President Barack Obama has just ended a summer shadowed by weakness: A convergence of external events and what even some Democrats are calling self-inflicted setbacks have cast a harsh light on a so-far anemic second term.”
British officials have been shut out of Syria planning at Cent Com in Tampa because they are now considered “unreliable,” The London Times reports.
Buzzfeed: “Following his cancellation of a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barack Obama may infuriate the Kremlin further by meeting Russian human rights activists, including LGBT rights groups, during his upcoming trip to St Petersburg for the G20 summit. Four Russian non-governmental organizations told BuzzFeed Monday they had been invited to the meeting, scheduled for this Thursday at St. Petersburg’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.”
Labor unions are upset with President Obama’s lack of a response to their concerns over Obamacare.