We’re about to go into Syria. I can’t tell you at this point how, but the U.S. is readying an offensive. We’re rounding up allies, as we did before we went into Iraq. The White House is preparing the American people, as another White House did before Iraq. But doesn’t this at least deserve a real debate? The silence in America is deafening. Didn’t we learn anything from Iraq? Or, for that matter, from Vietnam?
I’m as appalled as anyone by the Syrian regime and its use of chemical weapons on its own people. But what exactly do we expect to achieve by entering this fray? And at what cost — to us, to the Syrian people, to the tinderbox of the Middle East?
Normally I don’t venture into foreign policy, but foreign and domestic policy aren’t easily separated. At a time when almost one in four American children is in poverty, when the middle class is struggling to make ends meet, when inequality is widening, and we’re dis-investing in infrastructure and education, can we really afford what this initiative could easily mushroom into? We have seen the power of the military-industrial-congressional complex to get its way, to get the dollars it wants, and to sway public opinion in the direction that will be most profitable to it. At the very least, we deserve a full and frank discussion of what the Obama Administration is about to get us into. – Robert Reich on Facebook
I think it says somewhere in an important federal document Congress has the power to declare war. The constitutional scholar currently occupying the White House should know this. While President Obama could pull a Bush and pretend moving into Syria is covered under the broad authorization given to President Bush for his War on Terror, I think most Americans will not accept this conclusion.
Conservative memories are even more selective than average people, when it comes to the subject of the actions of their leaders. Conservatives and their leadership have been foursquare in favor of every military adventure the US has embarked upon; with the exception of every military adventure initiated by a sitting Democratic president. At least, this is the way it has been since Jimmy Carter authorized the rescue operation in Iran that ended in disaster.
Americans never were in harm’s way militarily in Libya, the military action that the world just came out of. I heard more neocons whining about Obama’s cowardly allowing the French to lead the fight in Libya, as if France didn’t have stakes in seeing the unrest in North Africa settled. As if all of Europe didn’t have higher stakes in the Arab Spring not devolving into chaos than the US did. Obama wisely refused to put Americans into harm’s way in that conflict. Conservatives wanted Obama to do more in Libya. They wanted him to do more right up until the #Benghazi attack, when they suddenly decided it was bad to have Americans in harm’s way and how did Obama allow this to happen?
I floated the question of impeachment when President Obama first announced intentions to intervene in Libya. When he then allowed France to use our facilities to intervene in Libya under UN sanction, I still wasn’t happy about it, but with American servicemen out of harm’s way, it was a moot point. we were not at war, the EU was, using NATO resources that they help pay for. I cared not one bit when Gaddafi got what was coming to him. Like Bush I’s buddy Saddam Hussein, I was unmoved by his suffering at the hands of his people. Dictators sign up for being torn limb from limb by their own people when they become dictators in the first place. I don’t shed tears for dead dictators.
IF Obama goes into Syria with our forces and doesn’t consult Congress, it’s likely an impeachable act. The vast majority of Americans have found their antiwar sentiments again; they are war weary now. Liberals put Obama into office with the understanding he was going to end the wars Bush started. Liberals and antiwar types mistakenly believed this could be done instantly after Obama was elected, and then punished him for not achieving the impossible by not going to the polls in support of a Democratic legislature in 2010.
The limited strikes they are discussing, designed to degrade the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons (if it’s such a big deal, where were the voices of dissent when Bush I coordinated with Saddam to use them on Iranian forces?) will be essentially no different than the hundreds of drone strikes we’ve conducted in countries we aren’t at war with. The lines of what is or isn’t war are blurred, but even Jefferson himself did not consult Congress before sending the navy to Tripoli to deal with the pirates, and they invaded Libya. Congress should be given the chance to weigh in, but only the military and intelligence forces know whether actions in Syria can be conducted without starting a wider war on one hand, or are necessary to prevent further casualties including possible American casualties, on the other.
The blanket allowance that the President could pursue a war on terror was used to go into Afghanistan and then congress confirmed that that SAME allowance would apply to Iraq. W (Bush II) followed the exact same course that Obama will be forced to pursue, eventually. First assert that actions are covered, and then punting to Congress for confirmation, which they will give. W was going into Iraq anyway, because he demonstrably manufactured excuses to go. The same can not be said of President Obama.
In any case, the vast majority of Americans (as polls show) would be opposed to the move to open a wider war in Syria. Most of those people are demonstrably liberal. I invite you, dear reader, to join them.