English Parliament Balks At Obama’s Latest Demand For Military Intervention

220px-Houses.of.parliament.overall.arpPresident_Barack_ObamaWhile President Obama continues to maintain that only he decides what constitutes a war and requires consultation (let alone a declaration) from Congress, there remains a modicum of democratic process in England. The Obama Administration was surprised to learn that British Prime Minister David Cameron could not simply plunge his nation into another military conflict and that Parliament did not want to blindly follow the United States into attacking Syria. They would like to wait for all of the facts to be established by the United Nations before deciding how to act. It is of course a ridiculous notion that was long ago discarded in this country. If that was the approach in the United States, we would never have been able to invade Iraq on false pretenses and spend hundreds of billions in a war that has cost us tens of thousands of dead and wounded service members. Indeed, such knowledge is steadfastly avoided by our own politicians. By simply giving Bush a blank approval, politicians like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry could later deny that they really approved of the Iraq war and insist that they were misled by Bush.

What the English fail to understand is that our President stated publicly that he had a “red line” in Syria. Some say it was an off-the-cuff comment but he still said it. Now, either we go to war or Obama looks bad. For some reason, the Parliament does not see that choice as clearly as the White House. Of course, we have to go to war and spend a billion or so dollars to show that Obama means what he says. The White House has even promised to make the attack “limited and brief” — further conveying that this is just a face saving measure. For my part, I would rather keep the billion dollars for environmental and scientific programs being cut and have us all affirm that Obama is a leader not to be trifled with.

In the meantime, while insisting that we are only defending international law, the Obama administration has insisted that it would not allow Syria to “hide behind a U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons to prevent any response from the United States.” In other words, we need to support the United Nations and international law by ignoring the United Nations and international law. I fail to see what those English parliamentarians find so confusing.

97 thoughts on “English Parliament Balks At Obama’s Latest Demand For Military Intervention

  1. Makes one pine for the good ol’ Bush days when one could buy a “Coalition of the Willing” and happily march off to invade.

    Thanks to Wall Street and the Banks ruining the world’s economy, those days are just a fond memory.

    But not to fear, NSA is now invading your privacy on a daily basis and Congress is their “Coalition of the Willing” so balance has been restored.

  2. Good points professor.

    The Arab league is not buying the package either:

    The leaders of the Arab world on Tuesday blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people last week, but declined to back a retaliatory military strike, leaving President Obama without the broad regional support he had for his last military intervention in the Middle East, in Libya in 2011.

    (NY Times).

  3. Coincidentally, I happen to be reading Samantha Power’s Pulitzer prize-winning analysis of why the US allowed genocide to take place in Armenia, the Third reich, Cambodia, Rwanda Iraq, and Kosovo – “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide. The identical arguments for doing nothing are being made today. Shame. I’m with Obama on this one, and history will be too.

  4. You gotta love how this charlatan got so many to believe in his lies. And it isn’t just 2008 when people bought his lies, they still buy them today when his lies are becoming even more bold face.

    What is it about this man that the same people that thought GWB was so evil will stand behind Mr O and praise his name? I don’t get it.

  5. “Highly Likely” is not a basis for war. The US and UK governments still will not say they have complete certainty of who did this. They will not produce evidence, in fact, they are keeping independent evidence from reaching the people of all nations. I’m glad MPs are standing up.

    This a war of aggression. No person of intellect should simply “believe” anyone on a matter of war. Shopping around for war partners and “legal” justifications? What does this tell us? If there was a clear legal basis for war, they would already have made it.

    There are clearly alternatives to war. That Obama is willing to use war without definitive evidence is itself criminal. I hope Congress will draw up articles of impeachment. They should have done that several “kinetic actions” back.

    That a man who has definitely used drones and cluster bombs on civilians is willing to go to war should surprise no one. What is surprising is that he is given credence to act as a moral guardian of the world. The emperor is naked, as naked as his aggression.

    From ABC news:
    “A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria is thick with caveats. It builds a case that Assad’s forces are most likely responsible while outlining gaps in the US intelligence picture. Relevant congressional committees were to be briefed on that evidence by teleconference call on Thursday, US officials and congressional aides said.

    The complicated intelligence picture raises questions about the White House’s full-steam-ahead approach to the 21 August attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, with worries that the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later.”

    Linda, Obama is going to kill Syrian people. wouldn’t you rather be on the side of action to help the Syrian people? There are ways to do this through the ICC and/or UN weapons inspections. Many people are calling for a peaceful diplomatic solution pointing out that there will be further deaths resulting from the war Obama wants.

  6. Linda: I wouldn’t believe anything written by that Clinton bootlicker that never met a military intervention she didn’t like. Try reading a history of Yugoslavia that’s not published by the commercial press sometime.

    Was the North committing genocide against the South during the Civil War? No, then how can one Cambodian killing another in a Civil War meet anybody’s definition of genocide?

    If you want to look at real patterns of genocide study the overt & covert military campaigns Uncle Sam has orchestrated against various brown peoples over the last 30 years.

  7. I do not justify killing all the people in a neighborhood with poison gas any more than I would with napalm, a conventional bomb, or machine guns. But, I would not sanction the napalm, conventional bombing or machine guns over poison gas. Gas is quieter, cheaper and less painful. We use it in executions in America because it is human. When Texas forsakes it, I will condemn these Muslims who kill Muslims in the name of Allah. Remember the Sixth Commandment and remember that their ain;t no exception which states that Y’all can. Halliburton, Blackwater, the Kochcaine brothers, Boeing, McDonalds, are all in favor of another war. It is coming soon to a theatre near year.

  8. Today in the WAPO David Ignatius attempts to make the administration’s case. His reasoning ought to frighten anyone who thinks foreign policy should proceed according to facts and reasoned analysis.

    He seems to think that war is appropriate because “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad overrode a clear American warning “.

    Apparently Ignatius believes that foreign policy proceeds much as in middle school were if you violate the word of the toughest mug in the class then you get your ears boxed – except in foreign policy the boxing involves more than ears. .

    Ignatius continues “What did Assad and his generals think would happen in response to this blatant violation of international norms?”. Ummm…is it possible that maybe Assad assumed that the United Nations would present proof and ask for a resolution before any single nation decided to take vigil ante action??? – I mean I am just guessing here.

    Ignatius doesn’t seem much troubled by issues like proof or even evidence that Assad and his generals actually launched the attack. If we want an analysis of the administration’s proof that orders for the attack came form Assad’s administration then you will have to read a different journalist.

    In one small part Ignatius tells us: ” The strike should be limited and focused… But it should be potent enough to degrade Assad’s command-and-control structure so he can’t conduct similar actions in the future.”

    Has Ignatius even thought about what he is saying or is he just stringing words together? If we degrade Assad’s command and control structure doesn’t that by definition imply the weapons will then be in the hands of division and brigade and maybe even battalion commanders.

    Doesn’t it occur to Ignatius that military commander cut off from the chain of command might find reason to fire their chemical weapons to protect the regime? Does it occur to Ignatius that commanders cut off form the chain of command might fall under the influence of radical elements and take strong measures to assure the survival of what they consider the best elements of Syrian society?

    Does it occur to Ignatius that if we don’t like the quality of decisions made by those who are presumably the best and brightest of Syrian society we might be even more troubled by decisions made by Generals, Colonels, and maybe even Majors who are cut off from their superiors, and their intelligence and support staffs?

    What could Ignatius possibly be thinking. The demonstrated answer to that question would seem to be not very much, not very much at all.

  9. I got a brother who is a dog up in Oriental, North Carolina. They do not have leash laws in that town and dogs are relatively free. He is in favor of a war in Syria and Iran. BrowntailDog says that over one third of the economy of NC is dependent upon the military or “Defense” spending. He calls it “Offense Spending”. He says that it is better to be on the offense than defense. But we put it to a vote down here in Florida at the dogpac and not one dog voted for war in Syria.

  10. The original resolution that Kerry and Clinton voted for vis a vis Iraq was to support the US putting troops in position to enforce the UN sanctions and to force UN inspectors back into Iraq. There is no question that the US and UN had every right to do that. There is also no question that absent those troops Hussein would not have lived up to the cease fire agreement that he signed. Both Kerry and Clinton were correct to note that they were assured that it would not be used as a blank check to invade Iraq. If I were in their position, I too would have voted the same way since it was early in Bush’s term, and I would be hard pressed to say that Bush is/was a liar and a cheat at that early point. With hindsight, we can now say that the assurances were bogus, and that Bush lied. It became evident later that Bush was moving the goal posts to justify his invading Iraq.

    Any person with any knowledge of US history knows that the founders who wrote our Constitution, allowed US military attacks on foreign countries with no declaration of war by Congress. The most blatant example are the Barbary Wars. Then of course, we have all the Indian wars that had no declaration of war either. So to assert that Obama is violating the Constitution is absurd. If Congress feels it has been slighted in this regard, they have the option of impeachment.

    This also overlooks the fact that in the era of nuclear missiles we have given the President the power to act to go to war without Congress’ declaring it. This is for an obvious reason. The same is true for a military strike against Syria which does NOT mean we will go to a long term war with Syria. That is still to be seen and decided. STOP playing Chicken Little please.

  11. Obama is killing the Democratic Party’s chances in the next Presidential Election. A huge number of Democrats will sit home or vote for some Third Party anti war gal or guy. Hillary ain’t got a prayer in China. The RepubliCons have some lady with first name Monica whom they are going to put up in some primaries in order to humiliate Bill and Hillary. She lives in Palm Beach and is said to be a itchBay. She owns a golf course. When we go to war in Syria some of us will take to the streets and occupy Washington next May Day.
    What military action is Obama and company going to do? Bomb the warehouses full of poison gas? Bomb the troops who sprayed the gas? Bomb the neighborhoods across the way from whence the gas was launched? Bomb Assad’s Palace? Bomb the Bank of America in Damascus?
    Why not go ahead, while you are at it, and bomb Iran?

    Remember the song on Saturday Night Live back in 1979 when the students held our embassy folks hostage in that territory known as Iran? Here are the opening lyrics:

    Bomb, bomb, bomb!
    Bomb bomb Iran!

    Oh, Bomb Iraaan!
    I’ll take my staaand!
    Rockin and a rollin, rockin and a reeling
    Bomb Iran!

  12. Obama is against poison gas. Yet three states still authorize the execution of prisoners by poison gas if lethal injection is not available. It is difficult to lethally inject all the people in a given neighborhood, so I say that Missouri, Maryland and Wyoming all three stand up there with Syria on the poison gas thing. I say invade or bomb Missouri first Obama. Then Maryland and then Wyoming. Lethal gas: a human rights crime. While Great Britain debates this war thing the legislatures in Maryland, Mizzoura and Wyoming should hold special sessions to outlaw poison gas in the killing of inmates. I am in Den Haag with my half blind guy at the International Court researching some issues and I hear a lot about Obama’s next war. He is not popular in Europe anymore.

  13. I think we’re missing the opportunity in Syria to look like the Good Guys, for a change. Were it me, I would be sending the rebels food, medicine, first aid, potable water, baby formula, blankets, tents, sleeping bags, etc. Everything they need short of bullets. Let them get the bullets elsewhere. And if they can’t topple Assad, then it just doesn’t happen for now.

  14. I just heard part of the debate in Parliament via BBC. PM kept repeating that Assad had done it even though his own “intelligence” agency has said it was “highly likely”. Some opposition MPs seemed to be caving but there was real push back as well.

    I agree with BFM that we are dealing with playground bullies armed with rods from gods. It is absolutely shameful that any person would advocate war 1. without full proof evidence and 2. when there are clear alternatives that would actually work.

    The govt. certainly has many well paid lackeys who support atrocity. What enables people to take money for advocating atrocity against others?

  15. AY,

    As you and I have discussed many times over the last 7 or 8 years, if the hired gladiators don’t have an enemy to fight, they turn on each other.

    Our military and intelligence gladiators find themselves in the unenviable position of having way too much money in their budgets and no giganda threats so, as is the nature of the beast, they have turned on us.

    This is nothing new in history and the framers of our Constitution knew it and did a magnificent job of inserting protections for us into the document. But all the government has to do is ignore the document … something at which they have been very successful since September 11, 2001.

  16. “Leading experts in international law have attacked the government’s legal case for military strikes against Syria, warning it “does not set out a sound or persuasive legal argument” and fails to prove that all other avenues to avoid further chemical weapons attacks have been exhausted.

    Philippe Sands QC, professor of international law at University College London, said the argument set out on Thursday by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, “is premised on factual assumptions – principally that the weapons were used by the Syrian government, that the use of force by the UK would deter or disrupt the further use of chemical weapons – that are not established on the basis of information publicly available”.


  17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ignatius

    “Ignatius’s coverage of the CIA has been criticized as being defensive and overly positive. Melvin A. Goodman, a 42-year CIA veteran, Johns Hopkins professor, and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, has called Ignatius “the mainstream media’s apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency,” citing as examples Ignatius’s criticism of the Obama administration for investigating the CIA’s role in the use of torture in interrogations during the Iraq War, and his charitable defense of the agency’s motivations for outsourcing such activities to private contractors. Columnist Glenn Greenwald has levied similar criticism against Ignatius and has dubbed him “the CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post”.”

    (Go to Wikipedia for the more positive spin.)

  18. The Donald “Rummy known knowns, unknown knowns, and known unknowns” Rumsfeld says intervention in Syria is not appropriate for good people:

    Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served under former President George W. Bush and was a key player in the decisions to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Wednesday that President Barack Obama has so far failed to justify U.S. intervention in Syria, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that the administration’s strategy is “mindless.”

    “One thing that’s very interesting, it seems to me, is that there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation,” Rumsfeld said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

    (HuffPo). There must be some kind of holy hate eh?

    “My hate is better than your hate, my war crimes are better than yours.”

  19. Linda Harbertson 1, August 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Bush got approval from congress didn’t he? And the UN?
    Not the UN.

  20. We’d better think long and hard about this “intervention”. Among other things, “unintended consequences” come to mind.

  21. “With the NSA spying on us @ least there is clarity as to whom the DC establishment sees as the enemy.”

    You got it. “We the People” through our representatives at the Constitutional Convention enacted restrictions on government power. So the state (the government) looks on us as the enemy. Government, any government, always tends to expand it power, size and jurisdiction.
    For example, under the guise of discouraging US citizens from committing certain evils abroad (sextouring – who could argue with that?) that would be crimes if committed in the USA, the US has extended its jurisdiction to the entire planet, and, I suppose, to the Moon.

  22. It’s perfectly obvious that Assad has attacked the President’s ego. Ergo thousands of people must die and billions of dollars wasted. Clinical narcissism is a job requirement for pols under our electoral systems. There is no harm greater to a narcissist than a bruised ego. Personal profit, saving face, whatever – you people need to get with the program that the military is the toy of the President and he can play with it any way he want so long as he buys more crap from Military-Industrial Complex. Obama ran across the memo The Chimp and The Penguin left in their desks on the way out the door.

  23. They’re indeed robbin’, but I think the original erstwhile boy hostage spelled his name with one “b”.

  24. Dare I hope that we’ve just seen the quintessential trial balloon going down in flames? Rather that than our country’s tattered and debased “honor,” to the extent that we have any left.

  25. Any person with any knowledge of US history knows that the founders who wrote our Constitution, allowed US military attacks on foreign countries with no declaration of war by Congress.

    Any person with any knowledge of US history knows that the War Powers Resolution didn’t exist until 1973.

    “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” — Candidate Obama in 2007

  26. The poison gas issue. The President says that they crossed the Red Line by using poison gas. Missouri, Maryland and Wyoming have poison gas laws which allows them to kill people on purpose with poison gas. Bomb them first. Where, I don’t know. How to avoid killing civilians, I don’t know. Neither does Obama as he prepares to bomb the Syrians for using the same gas we use in those three states.

  27. I propose a three state solution to the Syrian crisis. The three states that still have laws authorizing the state to kill people should repeal those laws and destroy their gas. That would be Mizzoura, Maryland and Wyoming. The Syrians can then in good conscience say that they will do the same and when they do so we can stop the war.

    In the meantime we must Occupy DC to stop the War.

  28. If poison gas is an international war crime like Obama says then why do Missouri, Maryland and Wyoming have laws authorizing the use of poison gas to kill inmates? Maybe the Syrians can just take the position that they were “executing” criminals and that they ran out of lethal injection so they resorted to poison gas like Missouri, Maryland and Wyoming can do. Allah said that they can kill all infidels and that includes women and children. I guess when Obama bombs Syria and women and children are killed he can call that collateral damage with the grace of God.

    What a BS world we live in.

  29. Word has it that the missiles are being fired on Syria tonight. The word in Den Haag is that Obama thinks he can bomb Syria and then bring all sides together and have peace. I think he ought to pull out now like his father should have.

  30. How’s everyone’s memory working in the continued face of these mass data dumps by the Govt/Wallst/MIC?

    “The beatings will continue until morale improves”

    Remember last spring when Obama had Nuke launch commanders disciplined… something, something,…. they needed to get their minds right. :)

    Seems to me now he was attempting to force them to agree to launch all birds if the Emperor decides to go forward with this current effort for preemptive WW3 Worldwide Nuke War.

    Remember the recent memos going though all military/police attempting to find out which in the groups would Murrrder American Citizens if order by the Emperor?


  31. Here’s what an investigation can get for you-actual facts! OMG! We can’t allow that!!! “(Reuters) – The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it had launched a preliminary investigation into the U.S. National Security Agency’s Prism surveillance program after French rights groups complained it was snooping on citizens’ emails and phone calls.

    The probe, which was opened in mid-July, followed a legal complaint earlier that month by two human rights groups denouncing U.S. spying methods revealed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

    The groups filed their complaint against “persons unknown” but named Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Paltalk, Facebook, AOL and Apple as “potential accomplices” of the NSA and FBI.

    The original complaint was filed by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French Human Rights League (LDH).”


  32. While Obama would not allow Syria to “hide behind a U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons[…] I think he just might be willing to hide his forthcoming efforts at a full frontal assault on Social Security and Medicare behind any excuse that comes along, and military action against Syria which would in effect simply punish a bunch of innocent bystanders for crimes we have no idea who committed would fit the bill perfectly.

  33. I haven’t had time to read all fourteen pages of this argument, but James Madison pretty well eviscerates any claim by the Executive branch to authority over deciding when a war should commence, how long it should continue, and under what circumstances it should end. The Executive can only operate pursuant to existing laws and the Legislative branch properly makes those laws. According any President the authority to make a treaty or declare a war — actions which have the force of “law” — simply makes an irrelevancy of the Legislature and a monarchy out of the former Republic.


  34. I would rather live free in an unsafe country than as a slave in a “safe” one.

    And I really don’t give a tinker’s damn about President Obama’s “face.” He opened his own mouth, stuck both feet in it, and now wants to blow up some Syrians and have our country take the blame for what Saudi Arabia and the Apartheid Zionist Entity won’t do themselves.

    And it would really help things if the U.S. government would stop all the transparent and damnable LYING.

  35. I’m all for free speech, but Yoo should really STFU.

    “Declare” is not a word that has changed due to semantic drift since the Constitution was drafted. But what do you expect considering the mental contortionist act he did to justify torture? He’s not exactly an A game legal scholar despite having a degree. Schmuck.

  36. Before Bush/Cheney US foreign policy was only moderately crazy as we squandered our troops lives in Viet Nam. After 9/11 Bush/Cheney moved the line from crazy to certifiably insane. Obama ran on changing that but he obviously got captured by the CMIC and allowed himself to believe their lies. Nothing has changed though he promised it would, it hss gotten worse. Domestically he gets some slack for dealing with a Congress that has failed in its duty. However, when it comes to Foreign Policy, Intelligence and the Military ALL the blame rests on his shoulders.

  37. It amazes that people have forgotten how we got embroiled in the Iraq war. If we are not going to launch air strikes to remove Assad, what do we gain from the strikes? I am all in favor of waiting to hear what the UN says. I am amused that many of the Congress critters who are constantly drumming the war drums are now trying to claim foul that any President would consider striking Syria. The best way Congress to control the ever expanding Executive powers is to terminate AUMF and the Patriot Act, just for a start.

  38. So let me see if I have this straight. Our pretense for war according to the White House is the use of chemical weapons, which were outlawed for use during warfare by the Geneva Conventions following World War 1. John Yoo, the California law professor who wrote the legal memos rationalizing the use of torture on prisoners simply by calling them “enemy combatants” as opposed to soldiers and “detainees” as opposed to prisoners (can law really so easily be drilled down to almost juvenile semantic games?) is defending the Obama administration today making these claims. He was able to call them “detainees” and “enemy combatants” in the Iraq war simply because they were guerrilla fighters and not a uniformed army. But so are the Syrian rebels.

    So question. Isn’t Yoo (and the White House) argument that because they are violating the Geneva conventions (by using Chemical Weapons which were outlawed by the Geneva conventions) defeated by Yoo’s (and the Bush administrations) earlier argument that since they’re not a uniformed army they do not qualify as soldiers and therefore are not protected by the Geneva conventions?

  39. LJM The war powers act is irrelevant to the fact that President Madison who is credited for being the guiding spirit of writing the Constitution used military force in the Second Barbary War without any declaration by Congress. So I guess that you and others have such hubris as to think you are better informed about the Constitution than the guy who wrote it. Madison had no problem with using the US Navy against the pirates without a declaration of war. Then we have the campaign of Jackson in FL against the Spanish and Seminoles in his undeclared war there. So declaring war to carry out military actions is not required under the Constitution.

    The War Powers Act can and has been used to justify many other military actions and he has full power to act on his own without Congress’ authorization. It is obvious that those who oppose any military action are more concerned with pacifism and hatred for the US military than any concern for legitimate legal questions.

    I also recall that Pres. Clinton went to Rwanda and apologized for his inaction during the genocide that was being committed there. I hope that if Assad finally falls, Obama will not have to go to Syria and apologize to them for not acting to punish the regime for using chemical weapons. Then we have the problem of what nations should or could do if any regime does use banned weapons against its own citizens. I think that it is incumbent on advanced countries to act to stop such illegal activities. It would be a greater crime to allow such attacks to go without a military response.

  40. A tweet by Representative Justin Amash:

    “UK Parliament votes on going to war. Congress votes on critical things, too, like renaming post offices.”

  41. UK parliament voted against going to war!

    “Obama strike plans in disarray after Britain rejects use of force in Syria

    White House forced to consider unilateral strikes against Assad after British PM unexpectedly loses key motion on intervention”


    Write your congress people. Obama is having a little talk with them right now. They need to hear other voices besides that of a lying, war criminal.

  42. Ed Shultz (The Ed Show, MSNBC) said he is against bombing Syria … on today’s show.

    88% voted no when asked if they wanted US to bomb Syria.

  43. The British Parliament….. America’s War Mongering President’s favorite ‘ENABLER’……….

  44. Arthur Randolph Erb,

    I have cited above an extensive critique by James Madison ridiculing the idea that the Executive branch has any power to make treaties or declare war. Since you value Madison’s opinion so highly, I suggest you read it. Once again, the link:


    To save you some time and trouble, though, let us proceed by first dispensing with the usual argument made in support of a lawless absolute monarch in preference to an elected executive officer who can only act pursuant to laws created by the Legislative branch: Madison first quotes the Constitution:

    “The president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia when called into the actual service of the United States.”

    Then Madison says:

    “There can be no relation worth examining between this power and the general power of making treaties. And instead of being analogous to the power of declaring war, it affords a striking illustration of the incompatibility of the two powers in the same hands. Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws.”

    Madison argues this point at great length, but so as not to run afoul of WordPress and its various issues, I’ll excerpt further arguments from Madison in separate postings, if you require them.

    Let me close by stipulating that the Executive may violate the law if the Congress and Courts will consent to overlook the violation in any particular instance; but violating a law neither nullifies that law nor creates another law in its place, as you seem to assume. Violations of law do not constitute “legal precedents.” What an absurd proposition. That sounds so John Yoo.

  45. Sorry Murry but you fail to explain how Madison waged war without a Congressional declaration. I think that what Madison DID is better than what YOU think his position was on this subject of using military force.

  46. There is no apparent exigency in this matter, this would be a purely punitive strike. Congress needs to step up and again I state, we need to wait to see what the UN inspectors have to say, something that will take weeks. The UN needs to be put on the spot too, I read earlier that the UN was saying that a chemical strike earlier in the year was done by the rebels. I don’t know what became of that or if it was disproved or not. If punishment, for the good of the world community going forward, is in order then that issue (both sides possibly using chemical weapons) needs to be hashed out in the world’s community forum.

    I did see the pictures of people being reduced to the kind of death throes and seizures reserved for insects hit with bug-spray. It is horrible and disgusting that people would use chemical weapons. I’m not in spirit adverse to some punitive measures on whichever, or both parties, or using chemical weapons. It shouldn’t be the President’s call in a vacuum of information and debate though.

  47. Sometimes comedy speaks more truth than the Very Serious People. This is from The Onion:

    So, What’s It Going To Be?

    By Bashar al-Assad

    Well, here we are. It’s been two years of fighting, over 100,000 people are dead, there are no signs of this war ending, and a week ago I used chemical weapons on my own people. If you don’t do anything about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. If you do something about it, thousands of Syrians are going to die. Morally speaking, you’re on the hook for those deaths no matter how you look at it.

    So, it’s your move, America. What’s it going to be?

    Read the rest of it at the link:


  48. Actually given the current state of technology, the number of civilian casualties would be insignificant if the US simply hits well defined military targets. There are no good choices for sure, but there has to be a response to the use of chemical weapons that will hurt Assad. If he persists in mass murder, using such means, then other options will have to be looked at. If nothing is done, then worse WILL follow for sure, and the US and the UN will be faced with even greater horrors that will be on the way. Then the US and other countries will have an even greater dilemma. Also if Assad is overthrown, then we will be facing a population which is even less well disposed to the US for its inaction.

  49. Randyjet,

    So what do we do about the genocide in Rwanda? The starvation in the Sudan? The maniac in N. Korea? Where does one begin and which is the worst problem and who put the U.S. in charge? Does our military might make us right?

  50. Obama is not ignoring or bypassing Congress if he decides to use military force to respond to the use of poison gas. The Congress has appropriated funds, and authorized US military assets to be in the area under the command of the President. Madison did not seek a resolution declaring war from Congress, and simply sought funds to establish a US Navy and its use.

    I also recall what Teddy Roosevelt did when he sent the Great White Fleet around the world. Congress had not appropriated funds for this trip, but they did appropriate enough funds to enable the fleet to make it to Japan. So TR simply ordered the fleet to Japan, and let Congress decide if they wanted it back. I guess that was unconstitutional too?

    I am also rather amused that many on the left are critical of responding to this war crime, but had NO problem denouncing Reagan and Bush for not denouncing or taking action against Hussein for doing the same thing. It is even funnier to see the rightwing hawks denouncing Obama along with the left for even thinking about doing anything. That is such rank hypocrisy that one can only laugh.

  51. “I am also rather amused that many on the left are critical of responding to this war crime, but had NO problem denouncing Reagan and Bush for not denouncing or taking action against Hussein for doing the same thing.”

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that CW is acceptable.

    But the manner of response matters.

    There is a big difference between denouncing and attacking.

    At this time there are still questions regarding who actually launched the attack. If the US attacks the wrong party that attack might support those who use CW – not inhibit future use.

    There are questions regarding what an attack could accomplish in that area, and there is the question, as always, of unintended consequences.

    Use of chemical weapons ought to be denounced.

    But an attack raises many more questions and presents the potential for many more problems.

  52. Mike While all of those situations are bad, they do not reach the level of war crimes, except for the Rwanda genocide. Clinton admitted he made a very grave mistake in not using military force, so I think that question has been answered by the person who caused that failure. As for N Korea, the US does have the right to act militarily since they are signatories to the NPR treaty under which they got nuclear technology, and thus the US does have the right to insist on enforcing the terms of that treaty.

    The use of military force does not mean a general war in any way. That is an option, but that lies mainly with Syria if they wish to declare war on the US. Then it is the US option to decide how far the US will go. This hardly means that the US has the right to use force in any situation, but one does have to set some limits on the acts of governments that violate some international norms of such gravity as using chemical weapons.

    Indeed the US and Britain used such force in acting against the slave trade and committed acts of war against the Portugese, Spanish, Arabs, and Dutch slave ships. There was no declaration of war, nor even Congressional acts giving license to such actions. I think that was very appropriate unilateral military force that was applied by the President. This is another such bright line case which we cannot ignore and doing so will cause greater harm not only in Syria, but other countries as well.

  53. randyjet/Arthur Randolph Erb,

    How many identities do you need, for one blog? Have you started arguing with yourself, yet?

    And I don’t care whether Madison, or every other President, has waged war without Congressional approval. Whoever did that, violated the Constitution.

    Our present status as the foremost imperialist nation is the result. Time to stop the perpetual war.

  54. I think that Assad could prove a point by having a low level civilian plane fly over Pearl Harbor and drop a canister of laughing gas, with the top open, and have cameras below from CNN there to record the event.

  55. Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn, next stop is Viet Nam.

    War is coming again. Endless wars, endless reasons, endless killing, endless gains for Blackwater, Halliburton and the Koch brothers.

  56. Bombing Syria so Obummer can save face about crossing that red line? This president is a complete idiot that doesn’t know dam thing. He makes Carter and LBJ look good.

  57. After the fiasco that was Iraq’s non-existent WMD’s is it any wonder that majorities in the US are opposed to bombing Syria without hard evidence by the UN. The US lost its moral standing a long while ago but confirmed that loss during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan when people in the Bush administration started making exceptions, publicly so, to the Convention against Torture. Guantanamo is still running as is Bagram’s black prison, you know the one not even the Red Cross can enter till this day. What about the torture at the hands of an Afghan-American man in Wardak province this past year who worked as an interpreter for US Special Forces and stands accused of torturing and killing possibly up to 19 people arrested? The USG has been sitting on that story. Google ‘Kandahari and torture and Wardak’ together and meet the next torture scandal at the hands of the US-trained (SOF mainly) ‘gentlemen’.
    Now that it may very well be the truth that Assad’s government used chemical weapons on his own people the POTUS is talking about stepping over the red line in war crimes; give me a break.
    The Nobel Peace Prize winner is beating his chest like Bush did before him. I disliked Bush and I’m getting close to disliking this man we call Obama.

  58. FIrst

    “Immediately prior to Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, Congress passed naval legislation that, among other things, provided for six frigates that ‘shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct.’ … In the event of a declaration of war on the United States by the Barbary powers, these ships were to ‘protect our commerce & chastise their insolence — by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them.'”[23] On Jefferson’s inauguration as president in 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, demanded $225,000 from the new administration. (In 1800, Federal revenues totaled a little over $10 million.) Putting his long-held beliefs into practice, Jefferson refused the demand. Consequently, on May 10, 1801, the Pasha declared war on the U.S., not through any formal written documents but in the customary Barbary manner of cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate.[24] Algiers and Tunis did not follow their ally in Tripoli.

    In response, “Jefferson sent a small force to the area to protect American ships and citizens against potential aggression, but insisted that he was ‘unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.'” He told Congress: “I communicate [to you] all material information on this subject, that in the exercise of this important function confided by the Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.”[23] Although Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, they did authorize the President to instruct the commanders of armed American vessels to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli “and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify.” The American squadron joined a Swedish flotilla under Rudolf Cederström in blockading Tripoli, the Swedes having been at war with the Tripolitans since 1800.



    After the First Barbary War (1801–1805), the U.S. found its attention diverted to its worsening relationship with Great Britain over trade with France, which culminated in the War of 1812. The Barbary pirate states took this opportunity to return to their practice of attacking American, as well as European merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and holding their crews and officers for ransom.

    At the same time, the major European powers were still involved in the Napoleonic Wars which did not fully end until 1815.
    United States’ response

    At the conclusion of the War of 1812, however, America could once again turn its sights on North Africa. On March 3, 1815, the U.S. Congress authorized deployment of naval power against Algiers, and two squadrons were assembled and readied for war. The squadron under the command of Commodore William Bainbridge was ported in Boston while Commodore Stephen Decatur’s squadron was at New York. Decatur’s squadron was ready to set sail first and departed May 20, 1815. It comprised the frigates USS Guerriere, the flag ship, with 44 guns, commanded by Captain William Lewis; Constellation, with 36 guns, commanded by Captain Charles Gordon, and Macedonia with 38 guns, under the command of Captain Jacob Jones; the sloops-of-war Eperyie, commanded by Captain John Downes, and Ontario with 16 guns, commanded by Captain Jesse D. Elliott; the brigs Firefly, Spark and Flambeau, each with 14 guns, commanded by Lieutenants George W. Kodgers, Thomas Gamble, and John B. Nicholson; and the schooners Torch and Spitfire, both with 12 guns, commanded by Lieutenants Wolcott Chauncey and Alexander J. Dallas. Mr. William Shaler.[2]

    Bainbridge’s command was still assembling, and did not depart until July 1, thereby missing the actions.[3]

  59. The British Parliament has demonstrated the power of the legislature to say “no” to military adventurism.

    The question now before the United States concerns whether or not the Congress can rise to the occasion as well.

    Time to shit or get off the potty, America. Time to fish or cut bait. The British have shown the way. Some real legislative “leadership,” for a change. The United States could sorely use some of that right about now.

  60. From The Imperial Presidency, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr (1973):

    “Created by wars that required it, the machine now created the wars that it requires.” — Joseph Schumpeter

    From Stilwell an the American Experience in China, by Barbara Tuchman (1970):

    “The making of foreign policy in World War II came out of the great allied conferences dominated by the military where the military staffs were the working members, and the civil arm, except for the two chiefs of state, was represented meagerly, if at all. Pomp and uniforms held the floor and everyone appeared twice as authoritative as he would have in the two-button business suit of ordinary life. Human fallibility was concealed by those beribboned chests and knife-edge tailoring. By the nature of the message they proposed to send to Chiang Kai-Shek, the military were conducting foreign policy and nobody questioned it.

    “The message adopted the tone of a headmaster to a sullen and recalcitrant schoolboy. … it is doubtful if the note would have been addressed to the head of any European government.”

    This military “message sending” business has a long and disastrous history. No self-respecting head of state would ever countenance, much less comply with such peremptory, insulting “orders.” The only real “message,” of course, comes from the U.S. military machine that must create wars to justify its own ravenous existence. And the true recipient of that “message,” namely, the President of the United States, will fail to heed it at his own political peril. President Obama does not command the U.S. military. The U.S. military commands him, but allows him to pose publicly as Caesar and Napoleon as long as he serves the interests of the machine.

    The Imperial Presidency has long since become the greatest of all threats to the Republic and has nearly succeeded in effecting its ruination. Way past time to cut off funding for the limited, two-year standing army written into the Constitution by its authors.

  61. Murry the reason for the messaging was that Chiang refused to fight the Japanese. THAT is why they addressed the insulting message,NOT because the US and British military were martinets who were motivated by racism. If the allies had acted the way Chiang did and insulted the military leader of US aid and forces in China the way he did, I can assure you, Marshall would have done the same thing. In fact, Marshall was rather less than pleased with how Eisenhower treated Montgomery and let him run over him and be insubordinate. Ike should have relieved Monty long before the final confrontation which Montgomery talked his way out of being fired. To say the Marshall ran FDR and had no respect for his commander in chief is not only an outrageous lie, but shows a hatred for all of our military. There are many things and people that I dislike about the US military, but usurping civil control is not one of those sins.

    I have read Tuchman’s book too,and the main lesson of it was how FDR did NOT back up Stilwell and his recommendations. Chiang won that confrontation and Stillwell was recalled and the aid to Chiang continued being poured down the rat hole that was the Nationalist government. Stillwell thought the Chinese troops could be first class soldiers if they had good leadership and he longed to take command of them and let them prove themselves. Instead, Chiang vetoed the idea that Chou En Lai should come to the headquarters and place communist forces under Stillwell’s command. His comment was, ” I know how to take and follow orders” He and Mao later proved how well the ordinary Chinese soldier could fight when given good leadership.

  62. Not Another Undeclared War: UK Parliament Votes, Why Not US Congress?
    John Nichols
    August 29, 2013

    In the aftermath of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s immediate response was to appear before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war. Despite the fact that an attack on US soil had killed and wounded thousands of Americans, despite the clear threat of additional attacks, Roosevelt honored the separation of powers as defined by the Constitution, along with the clear requirement that “the Congress shall have power…to declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

    No president since Roosevelt has respected the Constitution sufficiently to seek a formal declaration of war.

    They have had plenty of excuses: a United Nations Security Council resolution, a Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a “consultation” with congressional leaders. They have interpreted the War Powers Act broadly. They have simply done as they chose.

    But they have not obtained the formal declarations of war required by the Constitution.

    It is easy to blame presidents for this.

    But the blame is shared with successive Congresses, which have lacked respect not only for the founding premises of the republic but for their own role in a system of checks and balances. And a growing number of House and Senate members, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, are recognizing that, as Congresswoman Barbara Lee says, “Congress must assert our authority on this issue.”

    The British Parliament did just that, voting “no” to intervention.

    Does the British Parliament have more of a say when it comes to warmaking that the United States Congress?

    The framers of the US Constitution certainly did not intend that this would be the circumstance. But in coming days we will learn whether the Constitution still applies.

    As preparations are made for war with Syria—and, should anyone be confused on this point, missile strikes meet the definition of warmaking—Secretary of State John Kerry is making public pronouncements aimed at explaining and justifying what could be a unilateral response to reports that chemical weapons were deployed in the strife-torn country.

    Kerry says that “the administration is actively consulting with members of Congress.”

    But “actively consulting” is not the same as securing a clearly stated declaration of war. Indeed, Congressman Justin Amash, an antiwar Republican from Michigan, argues that striking Syria without a congressional authorization is “unquestionably unconstitutional.”

    Amash flatly declares that, if a vote were held, “it would fail.”

  63. My guess is that Congress most assuredly does NOT want to have to vote on this. It’s too easy for them to wind up on the wrong side. And the Republicans would love to have a reason for impeachment.

    Anybody know of a reason Boehner is not calling the House back?

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