The war drums are beating loudly in Washington. But I have to ask, what’s the rush?
For the second time in this administration, we find the President eagerly bolting headlong into war without congressional approval.
As in Libya, uncertainties abound, and serious questions remain unanswered: Who are the rebels? What are America’s strategic goals? What constitutes success? What is the constitutional justification for going to war without Congressional declaration of war?
Earlier today, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated the goal was “not regime change.”
Ohhhh, that explains a lot. Or not.
So, in this administration’s Orwellian-speak, Americans should simply expect more “kinetic military action” targeted towards Syrian government assets.
It would appear the government’s military mission, if there is one, is to “punish” Assad for being a bad ruler and for possibly having used chemical weapons on his people.
In the meantime, the President remains in the shadows, placing America’s men and women in uniform in harms way to drop a few hundred cruise missiles, hellfire missiles, and for what? In hopes that if Assad falls, a Jeffersonian-democracy will take its place? One election does not a democracy make.
If he’s so determined to intervene in Syria, the President should publicly make his case for taking our country to war, and without Congressional approval. Instead his administration is hiding behind the 2011 legal justification for bombing Libya and toppling Gaddafi as a way to claim he isn’t backpedaling on his 2007 statement as a Senator when he said, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
(Congress is vested with the power to make war, not the President. For an in-depth look on this, take a few moments to peruse Bruce Fein’s important, yet overlooked, Articles of Impeachment drafted in 2011 over the President’s unilateral actions in Libya.)
Furthermore, Syria has potential to become a powder keg. A religious and culturaly diverse country with a population of more than 20 million, with the backing of Iran, Russia, and China, this has the potential to start an international crisis of much bigger proportions.
Has the administration taken this fully into account?
Perhaps more troubling still is the mounting evidence that Syrian rebels ranks are intertwined with al-Qaeda. Is Assad a bad man? Probably. But who’s going to replace him?
The world is filled with bad men, many of whom (unfortunately) find themselves in positions of power ruling with an iron fist over their citizens. The US has no moral, nor more importantly, constitutional authority to go around the world defeating evil men, simply because they are evil.
On July 4, 1821, then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams told Congress:
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
This is what the neoconservatives and war hawks have always gotten wrong when they refer to America as a “city on a hill” with a moral responsibility to carry forth freedom, by force if necessary.
Adams continued his dire warning to Congress, saying:
The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. The frontlet upon her brows would no longer beam with the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.