Obama Reportedly Ready To Order The Start Of Syrian Military Campaign

President_Barack_Obama300px-Tomahawk_Block_IV_cruise_missile_-crop-1President Barack Obama appears poised to take the country into yet another military campaign, according to the Washington Post. With critics mocking him over his repeated references to “red lines” in warning Syria, Obama seems to feel compelled to now act even if it could result in an expansion of the war. He is reportedly considering a two-day cruise missile and bomber campaign to hit targets unrelated to the chemical weapons of the country. It will cost hundreds of millions at a minimum, but we appear now to be at perpetual war even as we cancel key environmental, educational, and scientific programs (including program cuts this week).

The campaign seems to be the result of public line drawing and face saving. Obama said early on that he would not stand for the use of chemical weapons. That was apparently ignored and now the U.S. must act to fulfill the threat. The question is why the United States must remain in a perpetual war footing to enforce such demands. China continues to avoid such military action and then in countries like Iraq, China comes in after we spend hundreds of billions to seize assets and contracts.

We clearly need to act in the wake of this chemical attack. However, given the recent disclosure our tacit approval of the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against Iran, we look hypocritical in using the weapons as the reason for a further entry into the Syrian civil war. If the world is unwilling to punish Syria through the United Nations, the question is whether we should continue to enforce our demands through military action.

Even before the U.N. report, Secretary of State John F. Kerry has already announced that the use of chemical weapons is now “undeniable.” Combined with Obama’s earlier “redline” ultimatum, that announcement would seem to commit the U.S. to once again launch large-scale military operations.

I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing.

We all share the outrage over the use of chemical weapons and the need to seek sanctions. However, no one seriously believes that destroying facilities for a couple days is going to materially change anything in the country. It reminds some of Clinton attacking largely empty tents in Afghanistan with 70 Tomahawk missiles. These attacks will clearly have a greater impact than Clinton’s destruction of tents at the cost of over a $100 million. However, the question is what we expect to be achieved beyond sending the message that we are not to be mocked or ignored. With the long lead into the attacks, Syria has likely taking efforts to prepare for the attack and moved around assets. The danger is that we will cause an expansion of the conflict and push Russia and China to even greater support for Syria.

What do you think?

144 thoughts on “Obama Reportedly Ready To Order The Start Of Syrian Military Campaign”

  1. Obama Administration Denies AP Requests For Syria Evidence
    By Michael Calderone
    Posted: 09/08/2013

    The Associated Press ran a skeptical piece Sunday about the Obama administration’s public case for military intervention in Syria in response to a reported Aug. 21 chemical attack.

    The AP’s Zeina Karam and Kimberly Dozier wrote that “the U.S. government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence produced by U.S. intelligence — no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications — connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people.”

    The Obama administration has released videos to make its case, but the AP noted that it’s requests for additional evidence the government claims to possess have been denied…

  2. I see that the main constitutional argument giving the president absolute authority over the armed forces hinges on his position as Commander-in-Chief. But of course that interpretation, on its face, is invalid. In particular, the Const. distinguishes between the armed forces associated with our formal military (the army and navy) and those associated with the militia (today’s national guard). In the latter instance, (I-8) specifically grants to congress the power for “calling forth the Militia” into service, while (II-2) provides that the president shall be CIC of the Militia “when called into the actual Service” of the U.S. [by congress].

    So the only aspect left to consider is control over the military. The question arises as to what powers ascribe to the CIC based on that designation alone. The qualified nature of the president’s control over the militia, as noted above, suggests that such power is NOT, in general, unqualified. And there is nothing more specifically mentioned in the original text. But more to the point, consider the next earliest example of the CIC. This was implemented under the Articles of Confederation, under which George Washington served in that capacity. And under the AofC, the Continental Congress reserved the right to decide if, when, and with whom to engage in war, and whom to appoint as CIC when that need arose. The CIC exercised “operational” control, but was subject to the direction and oversight of Congress. Therefore, the CIC, so far as can be ascertained, does not have absolute authority over the armed forces as might a king, but is rather an officer more like a CEO in relationship to a board of directors. The expectation that the President has unbridled authority over our military is nothing more than an incremental usurpation of power by the Executive and from the Legislature, mostly occurring since the end of WWII.

    Constructive criticism is welcome.

  3. leejcaroll,

    Not in the current climate under the systems you have to use to finance a campaign, no. The barely concealed graft pretty much drives away any potential candidates who operate on any other principle than self-aggrandizement and greed.

  4. Gene, Would anyone but a narcissist want the position of pres (or congressperson, heck maybe even mayor) in the first place?

  5. He’s CIC, dammit! Nobody’s going to tell him he’s got a limp missile.

    Oh, except England. And the Arab League. And the UN.

    It comes with putting a narcissist in office. Look at what happened them Time magazine called then President G.H.W. Bush the “wimp President”?

  6. bigfatmike:

    I think, also, some pretty nasty sorts are goading Obama by practically accusing him of being a wuss if he doesn’t do something aggressive.

    And Obama is very susceptible to being manipulated by that sort of challenge to his manhood.

  7. “But doesn’t that get it wrong. Shouldn’t acts of war be reserved for those situations where conflict is so unavoidable, where the issues is so compelling that we have to be committed, that we have no choice except to bear any burden and pay any price?” -Jill

    Yes. And I know some career-military folks who feel the same way.

  8. State Dept Admits It Doesn’t Know Who Ordered Syria’s Chemical Strike
    Posted By Elias Groll Wednesday, August 28, 2013 – 10:24 PM



    With the United States barreling toward a strike on Syria, U.S. officials say they are completely certain that Bashar al-Assad’s government is responsible for last week’s chemical weapons attack. They just don’t know who in the Syrian government is to blame.

    On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf admitted as much. “The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if … he’s not the one that pushes the button or said, ‘Go,’ on this,” Harf said. “I don’t know what the facts are here. I’m just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime. I’m not intimately familiar with the command and control structure of the Syrian military. I’m just not. But again, he is responsible ultimately for the decisions that are made.”

    On Tuesday, The Cable reported that U.S. officials are basing their assessment that the Assad regime bears responsibility for the strike largely on an intercepted phone call between a panicked Ministry of Defense official and a commander of a Syrian chemical weapons unit. But that intelligence does not resolve the question of who in the government ordered the strike or what kind of command and control structures are in place for the use of such weapons. “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable Tuesday. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”

    Because of that lack of clarity, Harf took a beating on Wednesday. In a testy exchange during her daily briefing, Harf very nearly admitted that it makes no difference who in the Syrian government ordered the attack, a reflection of the lack of certainty that still shrouds U.S. understanding of the chemical attack that may have left as many as 1,000 people dead.

    In effect, Harf was left arguing that because no one else could have carried out the attack, it must have been the Syrian government. “The world doesn’t need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime,” she said.

    Given that U.N. inspectors with a mandate to investigate chemical weapons use were on the ground when the attack happened, the decision to deploy what appears to have been a nerve agent in a suburb east of Damascus has puzzled many observers. Why would Syria do such a thing when it is fully aware that the mass use of chemical weapons is the one thing that might require the United States to take military action against it? That’s a question U.S. intelligence analysts are puzzling over as well. “We don’t know exactly why it happened,” the intelligence official said. “We just know it was pretty f*cking stupid.”

    Pressed on whether the United States would still consider itself justified in launching a punitive strike if the chemical weapons were deployed by a “rogue officer,” Harf said, “yes,” before quickly adding a caveat: “But that’s also a wildly conjecturous question.”

  9. bigfatmike, this is one of the best sets of questions and analysis I have seen. Thank you for it! From BFM:

    “But it struck me that most every one is emphasizing that the intervention will be limited in duration and objective. There will be no US boots on the ground. This is not the beginning of a long term US mobilization in Syria.

    The claim seems to be that it is OK for us to attack so long as we plan no long term commitment and there is little chance of US casualties.

    But doesn’t that get it wrong. Shouldn’t acts of war be reserved for those situations where conflict is so unavoidable, where the issues is so compelling that we have to be committed, that we have no choice except to bear any burden and pay any price?”

  10. bigfatmike,

    It’s very simple just look at who Obama & his buds are, he’s going to likely use a low yield Nuke against some US city like Chiraq aka Chicago to attempt to get his way.

    Throw a fit now & demand his/his buds McCain&Lindsey Graham’s impeachment!

  11. There are many aspects to question including the legal basis, whether the Assad administration really ordered the gas attack and others.

    But it struck me that most every one is emphasizing that the intervention will be limited in duration and objective. There will be no US boots on the ground. This is not the beginning of a long term US mobilization in Syria.

    The claim seems to be that it is OK for us to attack so long as we plan no long term commitment and there is little chance of US casualties.

    But doesn’t that get it wrong. Shouldn’t acts of war be reserved for those situations where conflict is so unavoidable, where the issues is so compelling that we have to be committed, that we have no choice except to bear any burden and pay any price?

    In addition the claim seems to be that it is important to take a stand against inhumane form of conflict specifically the use of gas against civilian populations. But occasionally a talking head lets slip that this is really about maintaining credibility of the President after he drew a red line.

    In effect the President set a reckless standard so we have to follow with a stupid act to be sure no one accuses the President of being a fool.

    Or have I misunderstood something?

  12. What — or who — would be the American missile’s target in Syria since Obama now says “regime change” is not the plan?

    What building or person does Obama plan to aim at?

    And what would come next?


  13. Sorry anon posted if I seem to be attacking you. I am not but if it comes off that way, I apologize. I always value your links and opinions.

  14. Anon posted: This is not journalism, it is rumor mongering: “Marc Frons, chief information officer for The New York Times Company said Tuesday’s hack was carried out by “the Syrian Electronic Army, or someone trying very hard to be them.” (NYT)

    So, while claiming this is an extremely serious attack, taking place in the context of beating the war drums to attack Syria, they don’t bother to investigate first, just publish speculation? That is irresponsible.

    Now comes Rachel, a person who is at best, intermittently interested in facts. She is pumping for war: “Maddow added that the SEA has been very successful at carrying out “these mostly dumb but occasionally crippling attacks on the highest profile websites on the earth.”

    The MSNBC host then wondered, “Is this a freelancing effort by Assad’s supporters? Or is this Syrian policy? Is this cyber warfare being waged by Syria’s military at the direction of Syria’s president? Is this one of the things that Syria feels it can do to lash out at the rest of the world as this country gets increasingly isolated and condemned among the nations of the world?”

    Does it not occur to Rachel that SEA may be NSA? The NYT isn’t certain SEA even did this. Why does Rachel present that as a fact? She has been a war monger before, she has supported Obama’s illegalities many times. Her propaganda aims for highly educated leftists.

    More importantly, this could turn into the “legal” justification for war on Syria. The US isn’t having much luck with the whole “legal” war action thing. Of course, an attack on the US via an important US newspaper, that means Syria has declared war. It’s just like Stuxnet, except it isn’t!!! Stuxnet was our work so it doesn’t count as an act of war, even though it damaged civilian facilities. Oh well, too bad about that.

    I really am worried about this. The govt. has to get more people on board and they are hitting every target market they can. I know they will pull every excuse for war out as well.

    It sure does seem just like 2003 again!

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