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. 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.

  2. 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.

    2nd

    Background

    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]

  3. OS

    that’s what i like about the onion, just enough truth in the humor (or humor in the truth) for a good, uncomfortable laugh.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/so-whats-it-going-to-be,33662/

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

          1. “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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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:

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a2_2_2-3s15.html

    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.

    1. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/30/obama-strike-syria-britain-vote

    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.

  15. A tweet by Representative Justin Amash:

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

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