It’s September 1st, leading up to a Labor Day Holiday.
Do you know where your Constitution and responsibility launching war against other nations is, You the People?
This post is being faxed to our members of Congress and the White House as demand that Congress vote a resounding NO on the motion being submitted by President Obama to use military force against Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the Obama administration was releasing an unclassified report on its findings linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on Aug. 21, urging the public to look at the evidence for themselves.
“I’m not asking you to take my word for it,” Kerry said. “Read for yourself, everyone, all of you read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources — evidence that is already publicly available. Read for yourselves the verdict reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted.”
“So the primary question is really no longer what do we know,” Kerry added. “The question is what are we, collectively, what are we in the world going to do about it?”
Kerry: Syrian Chemical Attack Killed 1,429
Then on Saturday, in the wake of the UK Parliament telling their wannabe police state and prior censor of the Internet dictator Cameron to take a hike, by voting down a motion to approve a strike against Syria, Obama announced that he was sending a resolution to Congress, asking them to approve the military action.
Delaying what had loomed as an imminent strike, President Barack Obama abruptly announced Saturday he will seek congressional approval before launching any military action meant to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack that killed hundreds.
With Navy ships on standby in the Mediterranean Sea ready to launch their cruise missiles, Obama said he had decided the United States should take military action and that he believes that as commander in chief, he has “the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization.”
Many will argue that Obama had legal justification under various past treaties and agreements. This is laid out by Juan Cole on his blog. But he also points out quite accurately that the reason Obama decided to back down was just pragmatic, namely, none of the usual players that might have supported the military strike, from our erstwhile allies down to the Arab League, would make any statements supporting his threat for military action.
People have been asking why President Obama did not go to Congress about Libya but is willing to do so with regard to a much less robust action in Syria.
The answer is a pragmatic and not a legal or constitutional one. Obama did not need Congress in the case of Libya. He had the Arab League, the UN Security Council, and NATO, along with the 60-year history of the post-WW II imperial presidency, in which all wars are police actions and can be initiated by presidential fiat. Some argued that US treaty obligations under the United Nations treaty obligated military action both in Korea in the 1950s and in Libya in 2011 (Congress wasn’t involved either time).
The Obama’s own intelligence links cast doubt on whether President Bashar al-Assad had actively ordered the chemical weapons attack of August 21, which seems more likely the action of a local colonel who either went rogue or made an error in mixing too much sarin into crowd control gases. The Ministry of Defense seems to have upbraided him.
So by Friday, Obama had painted himself into a box with repeated statements that he had to attack Syria because of the gas attack. But as he looked behind him, the troops he was leading had thinned out faster than Custer’s at the Little Bighorn.
Those who think a ‘no’ vote will make Obama an early lame duck do not reckon with how all the votes have been ‘no’ for some years now. Nothing will change in that regard.
Will Congress authorize a missile strike on Syria? I think the odds are fifty-fifty. It is not impossible that the Libertarian Republicans and the left wing of the Democratic Party will ally to defeat the resolution. They came close to derailing NSA spying, after all. And feelings against entanglements in Middle Eastern wars are far more inflamed than on the issue of domestic surveillance.
It is remarkable how important the Iraq experience has been in the debates on Syria, and how decisive. Even if the US goes ahead with the strike, it is likely to attempt to keep the action narrow and symbolic, and to avoid troops on the ground, and indeed, generally to stay out of the conflict thereafter as long as no more chemical attacks are launched. Whether it is possible to bomb Syria and then walk away like that isn’t clear; but it is the maximal Obama plan. The minimal one is to be able to blame the Tea Party for isolationism and cold disregard of the regime’s violation of international law.
On September 3rd, professor Cole further emphasizes why this mad desire to turn to gunboat diplomacy will not only fail, but it will fail to help, and only exacerbate the situation. It destroys any chance to work towards diplomatic solutions.
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani has roiled Iranian politics by admitting that the Syrian government gassed its own people at Ghuta in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. He was lamenting the calamities that are befalling the hapless Syrian people. He attacked the regime of President Bashar al-Assad for filling what he called “football stadiums” full of political prisoners, as well as for using gas on the rebels.
This sign of division in the Iranian elite would ideally be used by Washington to put diplomatic pressure on that country. However, the American fixation with gunboat diplomacy will probably forestall that diplomatic approach.
Bloghnews carried the original phone video.
This site translates the key remarks this way: “The Syrian people have suffered much during the past two years. More than 100,000 were killed and seven to eight million have become displaced. Prisons are overflowing with people and they have turned stadiums into prisons. On the one hand the people have suffered a chemical attack by their own government. On the other, they have to await for US bombs today.”
So here we are with a president declaring that because Syria’s leadership has supposedly used chemical weapons, we have to strike with military action to let them know they have been very, very bad.
What are the treaty obligations that would require a military strike? None.
What is the clear and present and imminent danger to the United States that would require military action? None. The only time in the past fifty years a prior authorization for military action was ever justified was to allow the President to be able to respond in case of a nuclear missile attack. We have over the decades since Eisenhower left office seen that degenerate to the point that Congress has abdicated all responsibility for its duty to declare war. Instead, since Tonkin Gulf , Congress has through multiple unconstitutional acts ceded responsibility to the President, which is clearly unconstitutional, to one the decision of one person, whoever is in the White House, to plunge us into one war after another. This is wrong, and it has damaged our nation almost beyond repair.
The world is filled with nation states the ruling powers of which murder and mistreat their people. What else is new? Why do you think so many people for the past 250 years have done all in their power to flee to the USA?
Are we supposed to be attacking any regime anywhere now that commits an atrocity against its own people? That is going to be a tough act, since I could probably come up with a list of 50 or so regimes that need a good bombing right now.
This is absurd. GW Busch and Cheney were wrong, criminally wrong, in trumping up causus belli to invade Iraq.
And Pres. Obama is just as wrong in his apparent eagerness to take military action against the Assad Regime.
Just because Saddam and Assad are bad people IS NOT SUFFICIENT GROUNDS FOR WAR.
I believed that Bush and Cheney should have been impeached for their acts. They are still guilty of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity.
And Obama, if he takes actions as he is threatened, has joined their company, and should be held to the same standards.
Either we live under a Constitution with clear separation of powers, including CONGRESS HOLDING THE POWER OF DECLARING WAR, or we do not.
And tragically for this nation, it looks like the Constitution is down there somewhere, ignored, being trampled into the dustbin of history.
There is no such thing as just a limited action. Any military action is war. One missile. One bomb. One drone.
A military action of limited scope to just blow a few things up will do nothing to change the regime, to remove Assad, to support the rebels. All it will do is KILL MORE PEOPLE, at the hands of American military hardware.
Rather than finding a way to help defuse the Middle East, and actually helps its people break the cycle of centuries old violence against each other, our Wild West, unbridled and unjustified use of military force, unilaterally, has only served to fuel the fires of Muslim extremists, and recruited thousands to the support of the worst and most violent anti-American sentiments in the region.
We are reaping the whirlwind of the seeds of war sewn by the military industrial complex and its war profiteering, and the neo-cons and Straussians whose believe in an age of American Empire in which our military was the driving force of regime change.
It has been totally counterproductive.
What we have now in our nation is the worst realization of the fears of President Dwight Eisenhower, expressed in his valedictory address at the end of his presidency.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.