While 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.