August 31, 2013
Obama: I don't have to seek Congressional approvial for war with Syria, but I will
I just listened to President Obama's speech which took place moments ago in which he laid out the case for war with Syria. He then went on to claim that he had the authority to go to war with Syria without Congressional approval, but that he would seek that approval nevertheless .... after they get back into session.
You'd think a war resolution would be something to call Congress back into session over now. Nah, it might interfere with his golf game.
So, I'm glad the guy who once claimed that President's must go to Congress for war authorization is actually going to do that. Reluctantly? Sure. But in the end it's what you do that matters more than what you think.
What do you say the odds are that the Republicans in Congress will actually stand up to this guy? I'm going with 3-1 against.
UPDATE: Make that a lot of golfing:
Congress isn’t back until September 9th, which means this will take a couple of weeks to accomplish — if it can be accomplished at all.In his Rose Garden speech, Obama claimed that the Joints Chiefs had told him that a retaliatory strike wasn't "time sensitive". Uh, okay. So now Syria knows we won't strike before Sept. 9th. Reports from Syria yesterday were that Assad was moving troops, equipment, and missiles around in anticipation of an imminent strike. So much so that I heard an anonymous activist on NPR last night say that her entire university had been taken over by troops who knew they would be safe as long as they stayed on campus.
So, Assad now has two more weeks to prepare.
The more important question here, though, is the broader one about national interest. President Obama is gunning for war over alleged human rights violations. Is that his philosophy of the US military? That it is an extension of US views on human rights?
Now, contrast that to why we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan because that country was allied with a group that had gone to war with us. In Iraq because after 9/11 we thought it too big of a risk to have a regime we were already at war with (remember, the no-fly zone was an overt act of war on our part) with WMD (which, it turned out, they didn't have much of). But in both cases because of traditional notions of what constitutes national security interests.
But what our our national security interests in Syria? The only thing that's even close is that they are allied with Iran and they support Hezbollah, a terrorist organization.
Many of the talking heads now claim that we don't want to get entangled in Syria because we now view it through the prism of Iraq and Afghanistan. That's most certainly part of it.
But they are missing the most important factor: we now view Syria through the post-Arab Spring lens ---- especially the post-Egytian uprising lens. It's not just that we're sick and tired of foreign wars -- which many of us are -- it's also that we no longer trust what will come after regime change. The devil we know is bad enough, but we don't trust that the devil that will replace Assad will be any better. In fact, many of us are afraid of US throwing it's weight into the fight will tip the scales toward people who very well might be much, much worse.
Moreover, we no longer give a damn. Sure, it's very sad that Assad used chemical weapons on children. But it's not our responsibility.
If France and Turkey want to punish Assad, I'm more than happy to let them have at it. It's time fore someone else to be the global policeman.