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. 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.

  2. 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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. “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.

  10. 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….

  11. Like rafflaw, I’m all for sending in the cavalry — once we figure out who the white hats are. Right now it’s hard to tell and caution makes the most sense.

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