As he licks his wounds after this week’s Commons defeat on Syria, David Cameron will have been given a huge boost this evening to hear that President Obama has decided to seek approval from Congress before starting any strikes. Obama said:
‘Over the last several days, we’ve heard from several members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree.’
This suggests that those who tried to certify the special relationship dead probably need a refresher course in vital signs as it clearly isn’t headed for the mortuary, rather an acute unit (and Fraser explained why that assessment was wrong this morning). Perhaps it shows that Obama is aware of the trouble the US caused Cameron in initially setting out a tight timetable for strikes. But it also suggests he was impressed by the way the Prime Minister respected democracy in this country, even when that democratic process stung him.
But the President is not recalling Congress, which is not due back until 9 September. This gives him the time to roll the pitch in a way Cameron did not by rushing into recalling Parliament. So his move highlights an honourable miscalculation: Cameron was acting with the best intentions (even if you believe they were the wrong ones and that intervention will not help) but on a poor calculation. But perhaps his honourable miscalculation now looks a little more laudable than the political calculation of the Labour party.