Obama Seeks Congressional Approval For Strikes While Insisting That He May Attack Regardless Of Lack Of Approval

President_Barack_Obama220px-B-2_spirit_bombingThere is a wonderful scene unfolding on Capitol Hill. In the past, President Barack Obama has insisted that he alone decides what constitutes a war and when he needs a congressional declaration. It was a claim that was challenged in federal court when I represented members of Congress. Now, however, England has refused to go along with the latest American-led military venture and there is heavy opposition in the public. Obama therefore is now saying that he wants to consult with Congress while his aides insist that he really does not need such consultation and, unless they agree with him, may just ignore them. Welcome to the new Imperil Presidency and what now constitutes checks and balances.

What is interesting is that Obama appears to be looking for an out after he painted himself in a corner by declaring a “red line” over the use of chemical weapons. According to some reports, that was not in the prepared comments for him to read but, once he said it, it became U.S. policy. He was clearly ready to go to war to show that he is not to be mocked but then the English balked at his latest military venture. It appears that he may be willing to blame Congress if there is a vote against the attacks, even though he continues to maintain that he does not need such approval. He is calling for a vote in direct conflict with his position in the Libyan war.

I have spoken to people at the Pentagon who have complained privately that there appears to be no adult supervision at the White House and that there is major opposition to this course in the military. The feeling is that Obama aides are drifting again into a war with wider implications and uncertain ends.

What is left is utter confusion. You have a President who claims unchecked powers who wants to attack another nation. You have an attack that has been steadily downgraded into “limited” and “brief” operations to try to get the world to just let Obama carry out his threat and leave. You have a Congress that it desperately trying to pretend that it is relevant in any respect to this country going to war while not making any substantive decision. This is what comes from departing from the clear language of the Constitution in requiring declarations of war before attacking another country.

83 thoughts on “Obama Seeks Congressional Approval For Strikes While Insisting That He May Attack Regardless Of Lack Of Approval

  1. Isn’t the proposed AUMF pretty open-ended? Maybe the president realizes that a limited strike won’t help the rebels enough and hope to use the chemical weapons attack and the hand-wringing to buffalo a blank check on a narrow vote through Congress?

  2. That was a disturbed and disturbing speech. He summarily dismissed another branch of the govt. making them meaningless except as cover for his terrible decision. But there is something else which truly alarms me. I had written my Senator about the need for Congress to vote on this (before Obama asked for them to vote. He wrote back: “I believe that President Obama should make his case to the American people and consult with Congress before taking any military action.”

    This means my Senator was O.K. with just being consulted. This is how busted this nation really is. Consulted is not O.K. Rubber stamping is not O.K. We need a functioning Congress. It’s not just Obama who thinks the Congress isn’t relevant, it’s the Congress. It’s time for Congress to get relevant and take their oath of office seriously.

    The resolution Obomber wants is as broad as AUMF. It includes his right to attack other nations such as Iran if he deems it in US interests. My question is this– Where is the US’s own red line in what it will do to other people? We don’t need to use military force to send a message that CW won’t be tolerated. In fact, we only send the message that we will never choose a peaceful solution, that other nations have no reason to trust us at all.

    If the true end is a diplomatic solution, then you will not use force. You stand against injustice just as those in the civil rights movement did, with the use of soul force. You draw your line in the sand not only about your enemies actions, but your own nation’s actions.

  3. Too bad we can’t have sitting members of Congress arrested for failing to uphold their Oath of Office to the People. Iran, We, the People, are so unimportant to the political Slite because the ONLY accountability mechanism is to vote them out. In the mean time, they back legal wars of aggression and choice with OUR TAXES!

    The office of the President should have been constrained after 2004 spying was revealed. Then again in late 2006 when it was confirmed and then the Speaker took accountability off the table.

    Torture! Do we even need to cover how a Nation that claims to follow the rule of law yet refuses to abide by said humanitarian laws is anything BUT unjust and immoral?

    WAR! Endless war is NOT the pursuit of a peaceful Nation. It is the method of an Empire to maintain oppression and influence/coercion over a people.

    Then look at the police tactics at home, against our own people.

    The shadow of America is fading in the sunset of her life.

  4. What the news media is forgetting is that congressional approval will not make it legal under international law.

    What the congress should require is for the president to seek a U.N. resolution.

    If that pans out, then the congress can proceed legally to authorize the president to give Bashar a spanking.

  5. John Kerry was inside Nancy Pelosi’s office along with the 90 year old Feinstein. He was heard through the closed door singing these lyrics to a guitar.
    [music- and Jonboy Kerry singing]
    And, its one, two, three, What are we fightin for?
    Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn!
    And its Five , six, seven, Open Up the Pearly Gates!
    Ain’t no time to wonder why…
    Whoopee, we’re all gonna die!

    Does anyone know the author of that song and from whence it came? If the person who wrote it was from the Vietnam era and taught it to Kerry, you would think that Kerry would be thinking with something other than his thing when he wants to go off to Syria to bomb civilians because someone over there used poison gas on humans.

    I thought that John Kerry had some war experience in his past but maybe someone out there has a better recollection of things. I am just an 8 year old dog.

  6. Itchin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBdeCxJmcAo
    Country Joe McDonald.

    (I don’t know I kind of don’t have a problem right now with the President saying he wants approval but also does not need it. I think that gives Syria an opportunity to see that they are still not off the hook from action. That being said I can’t imagine what can be done that will matter to these kinds of people who think it is fine to use chemical weapons against their own people but the world cannot stand back, wring it’s hands, and say how terrible and there are no repercussions.

    BTW Max NSA spying started under Bush, not Obama, under PRISM which Bush has only a few months back come out to remind us it is his program.

    That isnot to give Mr Obama a free pass since it appears to have expanded exponentially.

  7. Here’s what I wrote to my Congress persons. I’m not hopeful but I am committed to speaking up.
    There are many problems with Obama’s plan to go to war with Syria. I am asking that you raise questions on my behalf. I do not consent to this war. Here are my questions.

    1. I want to know why a non-violent response is considered “doing nothing”. The US civil rights movement used non-violence to confront injustice. It was one of our people’s most courageous acts. I want to know if the administration has examined peaceful methods to taking a stand against the use of CW. If not, why not? I want my Congress to carefully evaluate all the options, not just the military options.

    2. How will this be paid for? The US govt. claims we are in a state of fiscal crisis. Where will the money for Obama’s war come from?

    3. I demand independent evaluation of Obama’s evidence. It is not enough to say a CW strike occurred. Harkin said the evidence seemed “circumstantial”. The administration keeps arguing by assertion. People who have evidence, present it openly for evaluation. I also see the constant attempt to claim that CW were used elided into CW were used by the Syrian govt. The fact that the administration keeps using propaganda to “make their case” casts serious doubts about that case.

    Finally, Where is the US’s own red line in what it will do to other people? We don’t need to use military force to send a message that CW won’t be tolerated. In fact, we only send the message that we will never choose a peaceful solution, that other nations have no reason to trust us at all.

    If the true end is a diplomatic solution, then you will not use force. You stand against injustice just as those in the civil rights movement did, with the use of soul force. You draw your line in the sand not only about your enemies actions, but your own nation’s actions.

  8. The irony is that Obama was prepared to attack if he got UK or UN support (neither was forthcoming).

    Since he didn’t get the desired foreign support, he now wants congressional support (though he might attack anyway if he doesn’t get it).

    Essentially Congress is third is the desired approval list – regardless of what the Constitution says.

  9. My guess is that Obama’s worst fault as President, among oh so many, is that he has assembled a group of idiots as advisers on all manner of topics.

  10. You drop a bomb… You have consequences…. Not at all unintended…. Just not wanted… Now, its 4 letter word time and I will stop…

  11. Leejcarrol,
    If you read my comments, you will notice I do not absolve Bush of his crimes. Check out the dates I referenced. Again, was Obama responsible for Katrina? Dates matter and that’s why I referenced them. Now, to be clear, if one man commits a crime, does the next man to follow absolved from committing those crimes if the former is never held accountable?

    BOTH Administrations are violating the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendment through illegal spying on Americans w/out warrants specific to the search and persons to be searched.

    Congress abdicated their Congressional role to defend OUR RIGHTS and instead chose to assault our Rights. We won’t get anywhere near “on track” as a Nation until we get a body of Congress that takes their OBLIGATION to the people seriously. Instead they’ve CHOSEN to protect Corporate banking culture, war, and the fossil fuel industry. Period. We, the People, mean nothing to them BUT job security. Full stop.

  12. Obama, Congress and Syria
    The president is celebrated for seeking a vote on his latest war even as his aides make clear it has no binding effect
    By Glenn Greenwald

    It’s a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US. That the US will not become involved in foreign wars of choice without the consent of the American people through their representatives Congress is a central mandate of the US Constitution, not some enlightened, progressive innovation of the 21st century. George Bush, of course, sought Congressional approval for the war in Iraq (though he did so only once it was clear that Congress would grant it: I vividly remember watching then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden practically begging the Bush White House to “allow” Congress to vote on the attack while promising in advance that they would approve for it).

    But what makes the celebratory reaction to yesterday’s announcement particularly odd is that the Congressional vote which Obama said he would seek appears, in his mind, to have no binding force at all. There is no reason to believe that a Congressional rejection of the war’s authorization would constrain Obama in any way, other than perhaps politically. To the contrary, there is substantial evidence for the proposition that the White House sees the vote as purely advisory, i.e., meaningless.

    Recall how – in one of most overlooked bad acts of the Obama administration – the House of Representatives actually voted, overwhelmingly, against authorizing the US war in Libya, and yet Obama simply ignored the vote and proceeded to prosecute the war anyway (just as Clinton did when the House rejected the authorization he wanted to bomb Kosovo, though, at least there, Congress later voted to allocate funds for the bombing campaign). Why would the White House view the President’s power to wage war in Libya as unconstrainable by Congress, yet view his power to wage war in Syria as dependent upon Congressional authorization?

  13. Jill,
    Imagine MLK Jr with an AK47…
    … Rosa Parks with a Smith and Wesson.

    Peace and Justice… Or the “American way”?


  14. We all need a good laugh. I am not a member of Facebook Nation, but my wife is. Please go to the “I’m Proud to be British” Facebook page and look @ the post by the great, John Cleese on this topic. I can just hearing saying those hilarious comments on Europe.

  15. Mike Spindell,
    Tyrants always welcome “yes men” to approve their tyranny.
    Why else did the King parade naked in his new clothes?

  16. Nick spinelli,
    There are several “I’m Proud to be British” face book style pages. Have a direct link to John Cleese comment?

  17. Kind of confusing and scary at the same time. It is time for Congress to grow a pair and put the onus on Pres. Obama. If Congress complies, they are as wrong headed as he is on the need for an attack just by the US.

  18. Max-1 I don’t have Facebook. There are several close ones, but it is on, exactly, “I’m Proud to be British” Facebook. I read it on my bride’s I-Pad, and she’s gone w/ it.

  19. Max-1,

    I loved your images! Did you hear Obama say: “my military”? OMG! And yes, Obama choose his advisers and he is responsible for those actions and any other actions he takes.

  20. Nick,
    Ok. Thanks.
    I’ll keep checking. FB isn’t like twitter where what you type is copied to your account, thus the John Cleese FB page didn’t have it recorded. I’ll keep looking. Do you remember the date of his post? That’ll help some.

  21. P.S.
    I don’t do FB either… Too revealing of oneself to an annonomous audience, ie prospective employers, CIA, local police, etc.

  22. To paraphrase John Cleese upon being asked about the U.K. and the Falkland Islands:

    “I mean it’s rather silly for us to be involved in a war over an island full of sheep half way around the world, isn’t it? If we’re going to be at war, it should be with our natural enemy who is, of course, the French.”

  23. Monty Python’s John Cleese on Europe’s views on bombing Syria

    The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.”

    Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

    The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

    The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

    Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

    The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

    Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

    The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

    Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

    A final thought – ” Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC”.

  24. “I have spoken to people at the Pentagon who have complained privately that there appears to be no adult supervision at the White House …” (JT)

    When “people at the Pentagon” are willing to complain to a respected lawyer who is also an international blogger and media commentator that their boss, the Commander-in-Chief, has need of adult supervision, said Commander-in-Chief has a gigantic problem on his hands.

  25. Now that Lindsay Graham and John McCain are Obama’s BFF war buddies I have a question for them and the other former deficit hawks.

    Deficit reduction is very important to many of the Republicans I know. They see it from a moral standpoint as not leaving a burden on their children and grandchildren. So are they calling up their Republican Congress members and asking about where the money for this war will come from? I’m going to see if I can find that out. Yesterday I talked to a Republican and he thinks the war will be a very limited one, no big deal, so he’s not worried. That’s pure Obama propaganda at work.

    However, when I called my extremely conservative, deficit hawk member of Congress I received a very hostile response when I asked where the money was coming from. This person runs a deficit counter on their website so I thought it would be a natural to ask about the money angle. The person who answered the phone seemed enraged that I would question the need to go to war and even more enraged that I would ask how to pay for it.

    Mainstream Republicans in Congress run around saying they are all about the deficit. I suggest they start walking that talk. You can’t end the deficit if you’re only willing to take the widow’s mite.

  26. Elaine, Thanks much for digging that up. My favorite is his take on the Scots. Although, as Gene points out from the Falklands War quote, he is not a fan of the French!

  27. What the president is proposing for Syria is a Chicago style drive-by shooting: This to teach Syrian leaders the consequences of their actions, no matter that a few hundred innocents will be killed. If this action is taken Obama, Biden, Kerry and Hagel should be hauled before the international criminal court, along with the congressional leadership, on charges of planning and conducting aggressive warfare. The Syrian leadership, including al Assad should also be charged with crimes against humanity. Should the world’s nations demand the UN take these actions, it would prove that the international criminal court is not just a western tool to use against eastern European and African leaders.

  28. The facts are not in Prof Turley’s favor since the President who wrote much of our Constitution engaged in MANY military actions against foreign governments with NO declaration of war. Madison presided over three wars, only one of which was a declared one, the War of 1812. The others were the Barbary War and that is actually CALLED a war in most history books. then there was the military attacks on Spanish Florida and the Seminole wars. I think that Madison is more of an expert on what the Constitution allows than any person here.

    I would agree that he would need Congressional approval if he were to actually go for starting a war, but the FACT is that he is NOT asking for over 100,000 troops and massive military presence in Syria. Now THAT would be a war. Using US military forces to blow up some military assets of Syria, while all such actions are acts of war, there is not much Syria can do about this. As for our right to do so, you have to remember that the US and Britain were committing acts of war against the ships of nations which allowed for legal slave shipping. Britain and the US decided that they had the moral right and power to commit these acts of war with NO thought of Congressional approval.

    AS for this being a new imperial presidency, you have to have severe amnesia to forget about the wars that Reagan and Bush carried out, ALL without Congressional approval, and in the Iran/Contra scandal, in outright violation of Congress and US law. Reagan only escaped impeachment because Adm. Poindexter fell on his sword to protect Reagan.

    Then as far as back channel quotes from military sources, I am appalled that any military officers would bad mouth their commander in chief. It is those officers who ARE the spittle flecked gun crazy psychopaths one of our posters depicted. Such officers are so partisan that they need to resign. They forget what Bush II did to the US Army estimates of how many US troops would be needed for Iraq. Bush and Rumsfeld simply told Gen. Shinseki that he knew nothing about the subject when he disagreed before Congress for the manpower needs of such an operation. They basically spit on him as he retired. I will be as appalled if Obama were to do the same. The fact is that Obama has all the power and law he requires to deploy US forces except for a massive troop deployment which will require major funding from Congress. I guess that people also said the same thing about Obama using US air power in Libya, and I have YET to hear any of those opponents say that they WERE WRONG COMPLETELY. So far all I have seen are a bunch of chicken littles running around crying the war is coming. You were all wrong in Libya, and so I see no reason to think your prognosticating powers have improved markedly since.

  29. Max-1,
    “We, the People, are so unimportant to the political Slite because the ONLY accountability mechanism is to vote them out.”

    And it is very difficult to vote them out. Once upon a time we could only directly elect the House of Representatives congressman. Our state legislators chose our federal senators. This was a good check on power because our state legislators were (and are) our neighbors–they come from small districts in our own communities. If we didn’t like what the Federal Senator was doing on the Hill, we could contact him and we could contact our state legislator about our concerns. Then came a fervor for more democracy and the 17th Amendment.

    Now I am one person out of several 100,000 people at least, if not a million, trying to voice my concerns to my Federal Senator (who likely listens to the big donors more than anyone else). Now I cannot chat with my state legislator who lives about two miles from my house and try to get him to unseat my foolish federal senator. Now how can ‘we the people’ form a coalition against our senators without creating a second job for ourselves?

    Repealing the 17th Amendment would be a start, but how could that genie be put back in the bottle when the people who would be voting against it benefit from its existence?

  30. “Madison presided over three wars, only one of which was a declared one, the War of 1812.” — ERB

    So President Madison upheld the Constitution once and defiled it twice, in your opinion. Again and again, you argue that once someone breaks the law, then that invalidates the law, and anyone else who wants to break the law should also get to violate it, if they think they can get away with it. “Nice law you got there, It would sure be a shame if something happened to it.” As Noam Chomsky has written:

    “[T]hat aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents.” The U.N. Charter, as a ratified treaty, forms part of the Constitution, making it the basis of American law. So, in fact and in law, the President of the United States has no legal authority to initiate a war against any other country that has not attacked or threatened the United States. End of story.

    So go on with your tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents. What a complete absurdity. And you might also want to cite some of the arguments that James Madison advanced supporting the right of the Executive, and not the Congress, to declare war — If you can find one. “Crime Pays” makes a really lousy basis for a system of law or guiding principle of government, despite your enthusiasm for criminality.

  31. The sheer size of the American military practically guarantees its abuse by Imperial Presidents. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright liked to ask: “Why even have this superb military you’re always talking about if you won’t use it?” In light of the historical record of Imperial rulers, only the radical reduction of the U.S. military — to a far smaller size and share of the national budget — will save the republic from an Imperial Presidency ever eager to abuse it for his or her personal political interests.

  32. From Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Imperial Presidency

    Chapter 2: Where the Founding Fathers Disagreed

    “In 1801 Chief Justice Marshall made the presumption explicit in a second case arising out of the ‘quasi-war’ with France. ‘The whole powers of war being, by the Constitution of the United States, vested in Congress, ‘ he ruled in Talbot v. Seeman, ‘the Congress may authorize general hostilities … or partial war.’”


    “As for Congress, it considered the idea of formal declarations against a collection of pirates demeaning; but it did pass a law authorizing the Navy to wage limited war against Tripoli.”

    A few years later:

    “Jefferson continued to resist the temptation to enlarge the idea of defensive war. In 1805, in face of an incursion into Louisiana by the Spanish in Florida, he said in a special message: ‘Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force. … The course to be pursued will require the command of means which it belongs to Congress exclusively to yield or deny.’ In this case, Congress chose to deny, and the President subsided.”

    So the Constitution has always served as the basis for reserving war powers to the Congress. The Founding Fathers wisely distrusted fallible human nature and wished to place the gravest of national issues before the consideration of the largest number of responsible persons. Yes, a large body of men can make mistakes, too, but will not do so as often as a single self-interested individual.

    Wise Presidents have seen this Congressional power as a safety net, protecting them from their own worst impulses, while those presidents who have arrogantly bypassed Congress or willfully deceived it have furnished our history with some of its most dreadful disasters. If Congress in the present crisis votes to rubber stamp President Obama’s decision to commit a war crime in violation of International and U.S. law, then that will not make the crime any less a crime for having more criminals participating in it; but the nation will at least know which criminals to hold accountable, despite their number.

    Ultimately, of course, war will take its own course and attempts to “limit” it have historically failed in the greatest number of instances. A wise Congress would protect the nation, themselves, and the President by simply saying “no” to another needless and pointless war against some Muslims somewhere over the horizon.

  33. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency (Boston: Houghton Miffin Company 1973)

    It was not enough for the President personally to think the country was in danger. It was thereafter apparent that, to confirm the judgement of dire emergency, the President had to have the broad agreement of Congress and public opinion. When all three agreed that the emergency was authentic, it seemed probable that the Supreme Court would not oppose this judgement, at least not until the crisis was over.”

    In the present situation, no reasonable, informed person contends that any “dire emergency” confronts the United States, with most of the citizens and government officials still enjoying their summer vacations. Public opinion weighs overwhelmingly against ANY aggressive presidential war of choice against the nation of Syria. Any vote of the Congress to rubber stamp President Obama’s reckless threats to widen an already expanding disaster will most likely prove significantly divided. So, no emergency or threat to the nation; no widespread public support; and no broad agreement in the Congress. Strike three.

    Of course, President Obama could always declare himself umpire as well as batter and give himself all the strikes he wants until he finally manages to hit the ball.

  34. MM I am sorry you are unable to understand some simple points. Unless you can come up with some proof that Madison knew and agreed he was willingly flouting the Constitution he did so much to write, you have no case. Just because you think you know more about the Constitution than Madison, does NOT make it so. That is simply childish.

    Then you forget the simple fact that all acts of war do not necessarily lead to war. The British and French had BOTH been committing acts of war against the US. Congress and Madison chose to ignore the French transgressions since the British had a far bigger navy and thus committed far more acts than the French and the fact that Britain was our traditional enemy. Thus the war against Britain.

    The point about Jefferson is not correct since Tom was asking for a general war against Spain, NOT against using military force to fight against Spanish. He did not tell his commanders to stay passive and do NOT fire on them. If he had done that, THEN you might have a point, but he did not. As a matter of fact, Jackson when Madison was president started a war with Spain in Florida that turned out to be successful. Madison did not rebuke or relieve Jackson, and though a resolution was proposed in Congress to denounce Jackson, it lost by an overwhelming margin.

    I fail to see how an attack on Syria equals and attack on all Muslims, since Assad has the majority of Christians on his side, and thus an attack would be seen as joining WITH Muslims, NOT against them. Then we have the fact that the Arab League has endorsed US force against Syria, so once again, you think that your pronouncements are enough to make it so.

    The fact is that our founders knew that there is a conflict inherent in giving the President powers of the commander in chief from the very beginning of our country, and so the constitution has within it remedies to curb any excess such as impeachment and withholding money. That you can think that Obama can widen any military action to a general invasion or war against Syria is nothing short of delusional since you forget that the military has had to cancel some of my favorite things, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. If they cannot find enough money for such a small outlay,just how do you think Obama can come up with enough money to send hundreds of thousands of US troops to Syria?

    By the way, I am still waiting for an apology from all those who were against Obama using air strikes in Libya and who said it would lead to a wider war and was also an illegal military action.

  35. MM the closest analogy I can think of to the present situation is what the US and the UK did in establishing anti-slaver patrols off the coast of Africa. We and they unilaterally declared such trade to be illegal, and proceeded to make acts of war against the ships of Portugal, Spain, the Dutch, and Arabs, or in your view, Muslims. The US went to war over the fact that the Brits were taking US sailors off US ships if they had a British accent, or were unfortunate enough to have a Boston accent. For the most part, they let the ships proceed, unlike the anti-slaver patrols which confiscated both ships and cargo. There was no threat to the US or Britain. They simply felt that slavery was wrong, and immoral. A sentiment with which I agree and think that such use of force was a good thing, even though it requires supporting British imperialism. It also ignored the fact that slavery was still being practiced and legal in the US. I imagine that if MM had been around at the time, he would be railing against the hypocrisy of using US force to stop the slave trade.

    This is a similar situation in which international law has been violated, the ban on the use of chemical weapons, and the US has every right and even a duty to act against those who use them. The UN charter does not have allow for the use of force against member nations who are committing genocide within their borders, yet Pres Clinton apologized for NOT acting in Rwanda. I think he was correct in apologizing. The UN has since modified its stand as to the use of force in such egregious violations of international laws. I also thought Vietnam was in the right when they invaded Cambodia to bring down the genocidal Kmer Rouge regime, but the US and the UN disagreed and sanctioned Vietnam for that action. I hope that you feel now that Vietnam was right to do that invasion in the light of history.

    The use of US military force does not mean that we will have a general war with Syria since the Israelis conducted a massive air strike in Syria just recently to stop what they thought was a shipment of missile to Hezbollah. I must have missed the news that Israel is now in armed conflict with Syria on the ground. Then I can recall that the US did a similar thing in Libya which did not require US troops or an escalation into a general war. The point of such a strike would be to make the cost of using banned weapons too costly for Assad to continue using them. As I stated earlier there is no way short of invasion to destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons. The US cannot do that, but it CAN and MUST take punitive action against the regime for having committed war crimes of such a massive nature. My personal choice would be to destroy half of Syria;s air force, and use the other half as hostage to halt further use of such banned weapons. That is entirely possible without a Congressional resolution too I might add.

  36. “By the way, I am still waiting for an apology from all those who were against Obama using air strikes in Libya and who said it would lead to a wider war and was also an illegal military action.”


    Please don’t hold your breath waiting for the apology. My objection to this and to Libya was that the U.S. is not the world’s policeman. This country lost its moral authority after murdering more than 50,000 of our soldiers and maiming hundreds of thousands more in Viet Nam. It also inflicted death and destruction upon millions of Vietnamese people who only wanted to run their own country. We did the same in Iraq to no goodly purpose and are still doing it in Afghanistan. I could cite many other instances. We further lost our moral authority to preach to other nations and intervene in their affairs by using torture regularly in contravention of the Geneva Accords; by the use of depleted uranium ammunition in these conflicts; by the assassination of U.S. citizens and by the use of rendition.

    Setting that aside for the moment, the idea of a surgical missile strike to send “a shot across the bow” of Assad is on its face ridiculous and meaningless. History has proven that bombing simply doesn’t work and I refer you to London during WWII. This act will do nothing to prevent the use of gases except to further exacerbate this Civil War.

    Finally, I frankly don’t give a damn what Presidential Precedent is because as a citizen of a “supposed” republic I have the ability to read the Constitution itself and the power to declare war is not nuanced as far as I can see. Remember Nixon used the fact that past Presidents had used similar tactics to the Watergate burglary, which was undoubtedly true, as his justification for what he did. That this country spends more on its military/intelligence functions that the total of the next 13 nations combined is a travesty, as we see our own people in distress and our infrastructure collapsing. The problem is there are always those in power whose ego has become conflated for what’s best for this nation and find justifications to orgasm through militaristic adventures killing other people’s children. Likewise there are those like yourself who listen to the sophistry they use to justify their actions and feel that they are being sage.

  37. “… Obama appears to be looking for an out after he painted himself in a corner by declaring a “red line” over the use of chemical weapons. According to some reports, that was not in the prepared comments for him to read but, once he said it, it became U.S. policy.” (JT)

    Those of us who remember back to the summer of 2009 … Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sgt. James Crowley … Obama went off script during a news conference opining “the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting Gates …”.

    Hew and cry arose and Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, tried to walk that comment back by stating, “Let me be clear; he was not calling the officer stupid.”

    More hew and cry resulting in that unbelievably silly Beerfest in the Rose Garden.

    I remember stating to my fellow blog posters at the time, “Well, at least he didn’t start a war by shooting off his big mouth before engaging his brain. But then, it’s early days.”

    Well, it’s no longer early days and as vainly as he may try, no one is arranging a beerfest.

  38. John Cleese left out the American Homeland Security Keystone Kops threat levels:

    1. Mellow Yellow (no plastic on windows needed before we invade)

    2. Mellow Orange (plastic on windows needed before we invade, but no plumbing tape)

    3. Mellow Red (plastic on windows needed before we invade, including plumbing tape)

    4. Mellow White (congress is about to vote, so L. Graham and J. McCain need to get out of bed and stop fooling around before we invade)

    5. Mellow Mellow (relax, we invaded, go shopping for plastic and plumbing tape)

    Gotta luv them invasions.

  39. What bothers me is that there is even a question of the president going it “alone” I have not heard that France has pulled back from action but to me this is not something we should do and I haven’t a clue as to what should be done. The world needs to stand up and say there are things that we will not tolerate. Gassing your citizens is one of them (and yes I read the posts about one form of death being no worse then another in that it all still ends with death). There will, sadly always be war. Countries will kill their citizens and those of other countries with whom they vehemently disagree to the point of war but there does have to be a line past which it is not acceptable to go. I think using gas against your own citizens is that line.

  40. Arthur Randolph Erb 1, September 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

    “By the way, I am still waiting for an apology from all those who were against Obama using air strikes in Libya and who said it would lead to a wider war and was also an illegal military action.”

    I apologize for U.S. Oil-Qaeda attacks on a nation that:

    Libya provides a complete education to all students free of cost to them, from the kindergarten level up through the university level.

    At least it did before it was invaded.

    Libyans can purchase gasoline for their automobiles at a cost of 14 cents a litre.

    At least they could before their nation was invaded.

    Libya provides complete health care coverage to all of its citizens free of cost to them whatever their age.

    At least it did before it was invaded.

    Libya provides good labor laws “for workers’ compensation, pension rights, minimum rest periods, and maximum working hours.”

    At least it did before it was invaded.

    That means women in that Islamic nation get a complete education for free, are cared for at no cost when their health is an issue, and can work in humane conditions, and wonder of wonders, women can drive automobiles in Libya.

    At least it was that way before Libya was invaded.

    Libya was categorized by the United Nations as a “High human development” country.

    In that U.N. ranking, Libya even ranked above Saudi Arabia, for example (Saudi Arabian women cannot drive automobiles, or vote).

    At least it was that way before Libya was invaded.

    Libya provided $50,000 to newlyweds, and zero interest home loans to the citizens of that nation.

    At least it did before it was invaded.

    Ghastly, Eric Cantor must be turning over in his grave at night thinking about how to not let such sins take place in America.

    But the worst thing Libya did, much like Iraq which also suffered an invasion, was to threaten to nationalize oil and stop using the U.S. dollar as the currency for oil trading:

    Is Libya about to take the lead of its friends in Venezuela and Russia and launch a new round of energy-sector nationalism? The thought sends a shiver through the collective spines of ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum … Amerada Hess … and Royal Dutch Shell … All have made massive new investments in Libya since Gaddafi renounced his nuclear weapons program, made reparations for past terrorist activities like the Lockerbie jetliner bombing and returned to the fold of seemingly responsible nations.

    (Forbes). Now is not the decade for any nation to do that, other than Russia or China, because there will then be blood for oil upon any such nation.

    The C.I.A. had grown accustomed to the Libya that would even read C.I.A. speeches (written by the C.I.A.) to inform the Libyan people:

    The speech that appears to have been drafted for Colonel Qaddafi was found in the C.I.A. folder and appears to have been sent just before Christmas in 2003. The one-page speech seems intended to depict the Libyan dictator in a positive light. It concluded, using the revolutionary name for the Libyan government: “At a time when the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as a token of our contributions towards a world full of peace, security, stability and compassion, the Great Jamhariya presents its honest call for a W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

    (NY Times). When the Libyan government began to think it was sovereign MOMCOM went ballistic.

    Soon the rocket’s red glare was everywhere revealing that our flag was still there, waving over the Libyan soil with the Libyan people’s oil underneath, out of sight.

    (MOMCOM And The Sins of Libya). Hence, the mid east curse “may the neoCons bring you democracy and justice.”

  41. Confirmed that Obama is going for it: (Guardian)

    “Obama plans more than punitive strike

    Barack Obama has confirmed that he plans to go beyond punitive strikes against the Assad regime in response to last month’s chemical weapons attack on eastern Damascus.

    Speaking ahead of a meeting Congressional leaders, Obama said US military action would degrade Assad ability to use chemical weapons.

    He insisted that US has a broader strategy to step up help to the Syrian opposition.

    He told reporters:

    What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something proportional. It will degrade Assad’s capabilities at the same time we have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of the opposition.”

    Obama has confirmed that yet again, he will commit a war crime. Kerry affirms he may do so. Try them in absentia at the Hague. Full due process. That’s a message which needs sending.

  42. It is about time for Congress to start doing their and revisit the wisdom of the War Powers Act, the AUMF and (while they’re at it) the Patriot Act. Nixon vetoed the War Powers Act. How bad does an idea have to be for Nixon to have thought it was a bad idea?

  43. leejaroll,
    I agree that gassing anyone, let alone your own citizens is a line that should not be crossed. However, this proposed action should be an international one with the UN and NATO on board.

  44. Mesopo,

    I think you and raff have it…. In this case we have played both side of the fence….we have funded the terrorist in indirect ways from what I’ve read…. So who’s the good guys are is hard to tell….

  45. “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.” – Sun Tzu

    Sometimes waiting is simply the best strategy.

  46. Here’s my latest attempt at reaching my Congress members:

    “Barack Obama has confirmed that he plans to go beyond punitive strikes against the Assad regime in response to last month’s chemical weapons attack on eastern Damascus.”

    I urge you to oppose this.

    1. it is unlikely to stop Assad
    2. it will only cause more civilian casualties
    3. if it does result in the rebels winning, will they be better than Assad, especially since they contain al-Qaeda in their ranks?
    4. it runs the real risk of a regional contract, we will be dragged into that, including boots on the ground

    Our luck with regime change in this region has been dismal. I urge you to vote against war and work for diplomatic efforts to broker a truce in Syria.

  47. MS I guess that the only thing we can do is to wait for the second coming of Christ to see who he gives moral authority to in order to be able to act militarily since there is NO nation on Earth who has the moral authority you seek. Then I am glad to see that you agree with the German Nazis who said that Nurenburg trials were nothing more than victors “justice”. Then you would have to agree with Churchill’s idea to just arrest and execute Nazis we thought were important enough to hang. Then it must have seemed absurd to you to have a Soviet judge at Nurenburg given the total lack of justice in the Soviet Union. At least it seemed that once the Soviet judge got outside the immediate control of Stalin, he tried to act like a real judge, no matter his past actions.

    I and most of the rest of the world DO agree with the principles of Nurenburg Trials. In fact, most of the world did agree with US actions in Afghanistan too and in the First Gulf War and they had NO problem with the US leading that actual war. They did not ask to see our moral purity first. Obviously any military action the US takes in your view is illegal and immoral if it is not in response to an actual attack on the US. You also must disagree with the International Criminal Court and its location in The Hague since the Dutch as I pointed out were the largest foreign contributors to the SS during WWII. Then they had their own Vietnam in Indonesia in which they acted in the same way as the US did in Vietnam. At least the US did not claim actual ownership of Vietnam as did the Dutch in Indonesia. So the Dutch have just as dirty hands if not worse than the US.

    In all of our history from the beginning the US has used military power WITHOUT declaring war. indeed ,many of those military actions were not even authorized by Congress. So your comment that ALL military actions MUST be authorized by Congress is not in the Constitution nor has it been a fact of our history. You offer a straw man argument by saying that sending air strikes means a war. It does not. In fact, Israel just finished up an air strike against Syria without engaging in a ground war with Syria. So you are wrong.

    Had you been around in the 1850s you would have been vehemently opposed to the US Navy and Britain making acts of war against the ships of nations that allowed them to engage in the slave trade. Of course, the US had no clean hands in that effort since we still allowed slavery. We committed numerous acts of war by seizing ships, and cargo from the Dutch, Spanish, Portugese, and Arabs, sorry MUSLIMS for those who want to say that all US actions are against Muslims and inflame them. That is another bit of sophistry along with the one that air strikes equals war. This despite the fact, we have no troops in Libya, unless you want to count the two pilots who were shot down. Think that those who said that Obama’s actions would lead to a wider war and troops in Libya were right? I must have missed that news and the media must be hiding it from the rest of us. That is another bit of sophistry that has been shown to be a lie. I an still waiting for that admission of error on their part.

  48. Try them in absentia at the Hague. Full due process.

    I see that Jill does not see the hypocrisy of having the ICC in The Hague and is totally unaware of the fact that the biggest contingent of unprosecuted war criminals is in the Netherlands. They provided the largest foreign fighters to the SS in WWII, and the Dutch for the most part forgot and forgave their collaborators and criminals. Then they committed numerous war crimes in Indonesia when they tried to retake that country and restore Dutch ownership of that foreign land and people. I have not learned of any war crimes charges that were ever brought against their own troops.

    She also has the problem that she thinks that torturing a few individuals equals killing thousands of people with poison gas. These crimes are all equal in her eyes. Right?

  49. Bloise, I think that Obama was right to call the arrest of Gates stupid. In FACT to my knowledge NO charges were ever filed. In fact, as Prof Turley has pointed out on many occasions the police do make unwarranted arrests. The cop was right in the sense that Gates was acting like an @sshole, but that is his right and is not a criminal offense. So the fact is that both individuals were not at their best that day and Obama was unpolitic enough to say that.

  50. I see that Dredd thinks that the US only attacks happy places on Earth. Libya was in his view the third happiest place on Earth prior to the US supported revolution. As most readers here know, North Korea is referred to ironically as the second happiest place on Earth. Glad to see that he takes Kim Jong Un and Quadiffi at their word. Of course, one has to ask why it is then that they need a police state and an absolute dictatorship that the Czar would have envied.

    Last time I looked Libya had nationalized its oil LONG before the US bombed them. The same is true of Mexico since they nationalize their oil back in 1938 I believe under Pres. Cardenas and it is still nationalized. I guess that means the US is going to attack Mexico next, right?

  51. Obama has confirmed that yet again, he will commit a war crime. Kerry affirms he may do so. Try them in absentia at the Hague. Full due process.

    I see that Jill does not see the hypocrisy of having the ICC in The Hague since the Dutch have the largest contingent of unprosecuted war criminals in Europe. They supplied the largest number of foreign troops to the SS in WWII of any country, and after the war, they mostly forgot and forgave their crimes. Then they did their own Vietnam when they tried to take back Indonesia under their control as an outright colony. To my knowledge they did not prosecute ANY one of their troops for their war crimes in that brutal war. In fact, I think that the reason the Dutch were so understanding about their citizens crimes in the SS was that they and their SS experience came in handy in Indonesia.

    Then she has the problem of thinking that torturing several people equals killing thousands of people with poison gas. Most rational people do not see that as being equivalent crimes. So while I do not like Obama giving Yoo a pass on his criminal conduct as a legal advisor, it in no way approaches the mass murder of thousands with poison gas.

  52. Any congress person that votes to go to war might have a better chance of getting reelected in Damascus than in his district.

  53. I bet there are no end of generals (just how many military are conservative Republicans?) at the Pentagon that hate Obama and are more than happy to bit*h about him and have been willing to do so since December 2008. Turley clearly shares their contempt and some sort of friendship. That fact that Turley’s buddies at the Pentagon made contemptuous remarks (anonymously) to a friend who so passionately and frequently publishes his fury at Obama is totally unremarkable

  54. “Then I am glad to see that you agree with the German Nazis who said that Nurenburg trials were nothing more than victors “justice”. Then you would have to agree with Churchill’s idea to just arrest and execute Nazis we thought were important enough to hang.”


    Don’t preach to me about the atrocities of the Germans and Nuremberg. They were trials that established nothing. I say that as a Jew with more than a passing interest in the “Shoah”. The doctrine that motivated the trials about the duty not to follow illegal orders died with those trials. The US and the USSR competed to “repatriate” NAZI’s that they thought could be useful in the next act of “The Great Game” the “Cold War”. The nations of the world have proven time and again they the principles established at Nuremberg were merely empty sophistry when it came to the self-interest of the various elites running each country.

    I don’t know what is going on in Syria, neither do you, but most importantly neither does the Administration and its vaunted intelligence services. How I know this is because we have been down this road so many times before as conveniently countries with strategic positions (usually oil) are singled out as threats to the peace. WE as a nation are then called on by our supposedly informed leaders that it is in our vital interests to in some way attack.

    How many died in Iraq because of Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction” that 3 years later became a joke told by President Bush at the Washington Press Club Dinner. How many have died in Afghanistan in our attack to destroy Osama Bin Laden, who turned out to be living in Pakistan? Arthur I respect you as an intelligent, decent man. However, it is time for you to remove the blinders and realized that this latest “threat” is merely another con by the people who are really running things.

  55. Mike,
    Regarding the war crimes trials following WW2. Not a single Nazi or Japanese aviator or their commanders were charged with deliberately bombing civilian targets. That was no accident. If Goering or any Japanese leadership had been indicted on those charges, they would have been faced with the problem of what to do with Chief Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris and his American counterpart, General Curtis LeMay.

    Shortfinals, who sometimes comments here, is a UK expat, an historian and former RAF museum curator. He has some pretty strong thoughts about Harris, so be careful about getting him started on a rant. “Bomber” was a nickname given to Harris by the press. Inside the RAF, he was called other things, most of them unsavory.

  56. Mike I hope then that you are against the ICC in The Hague too if you feel the Nurenburg Trials were a farce. It is even more absurd for the Dutch to play host to it since they are even more guilty of unprosecuted war crimes in WWII since they provided the largest contingent of SS troops of any occupied country in Europe. Then they forgot and forgave these war criminals since they came in handy in using their talents and experience against the people of Indonesia when they tried to retake that country from the folks who lived there. They committed as many if not more war crimes than the US did in Vietnam, and at least the US did not claim outright ownership of Vietnam.

    While I do not claim superior intel than others, I DO know that just because Bush lied, does NOT mean that Obama is lying. I fail to see how you can jump to that conclusion. I was against Bush invading Iraq, but Bush literally cooked the intel which was debunked by many sources at the time. I supported sending US forces to Kuwait to force Iraq to allow the UN weapons inspectors in, and they ALL found NO WMDs! Bush simply took that finding and lied about what he claimed existed. Please show me any proof that the chemical weapons were NOT used in Syria. Do you have that? If not, you have no leg to stand on in saying that there is no justification for the use of force. Now as to WHO did the gassing may be open to debate, but since thousands were gassed, I doubt that the rebels have either the capability or incentive to do that. It is more than 90% likely in my view that Assad did that. Now if it had been only a few score or maybe even hundreds, the possibility that the rebels may have done it goes up to a possible 50-50 shot.

    I also support the use of the UN when it authorized the US use of force in the First Gulf War, and in Afghanistan which the UN also supports. If you think that this means a wider war,then you must prove why this is true now, and that it will not be like what Obama did in Libya. I supported that military action too, and I think it turned out well and we do NOT have US troops fighting there. Then if you are opposed to invading other countries for humanitarian reasons, you must also agree with Reagan and the UN who denounced Vietnam for invading and overthrowing the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. I know that you will NOT be welcomed by the Cambodians themselves who are rather grateful for the Vietnamese doing that. Then you must denounce Pres. Clinton for apologizing to the people of Rwanda for not acting militarily against the genocide that was done there. Are you honest and consistent enough to do that?

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