Some Presidents have done what they wanted to do with our military, as Nixon did. Some have not. Some Presidents have asked Congress for action that makes Congress an accomplice to the exercise of military power, as LBJ did. Some have not. Some Presidents have whipped up public support for military action, as Bush did. Some have not.
President Obama’s request to Congress for a resolution to bomb a country dares Congress to not authorize military action. Nice of him to ask, but are air strikes not acts of war?
This Obama rope-a-dope defies Congress to see him in court after the strikes have begun and concluded. What President Obama wants has the Republican House spinning in a box. Historically the GOP likes to bomb things overseas but finds itself opposed to bombing things in Syria. It is perhaps an inconvenient note that bombing places, whether strategic or not, kills people armed or not.
Syrians killing Syrians is old business. That is what Assad’s father did. Civil wars do that. Why bother Congress about prerogative unless because the President can bother them? Here are three reasons.
First, bombing Syria is not the point. Putting the Republican party in a corner is the point. It is nice for Obama to ask Congress for permission to do what Presidents can do anyway. Obama already has the Go from tenured Republicans, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor in the House and former presidential contender McCain in the Senate. That puts Congressional rookies against their own GOP ideology. Lincoln’s “house divided” remains relevant.
Second, why won’t the U.S. let Israel settle this by sacking Syria? Syria can strike Israel but not the U.S. But Israel and the U.S. have a strategic relationship that Syria does not share in. Assad is his father’s son and he does what he knows: Kill his enemies. Kill his people. Let the Gods and humanitarians sort out the dead. After all, the U.S. arms Israel. Russia arms Syria. Are those countries thus the dogs of war?
Third, U.S. citizenry cares little for this confrontation even if U.S interests are at stake. There are no “red lines.” There are no binding conventions to which the U.S. is accountable, certainly not by the UN. The casualty statistics recited to us only include the children who have died in Syria. Those stats ignore the children who die here. Death by nerve gas or bullets makes little difference to the victims.
Is not killing for peace like fornicating for chastity?
It tires me that the U.S. is seen as a country of disaster. War is not an investment in the future, nor is it abstract. It is a deficit that begets finances flowing out of the U.S. and body bags returning to U.S. homes. Disaster only builds disaster. The President can do what he wants to do with or without Congress’ consent. He proved that in Libya. We will hear from the President the day after Monday Night football.