What To Do Now on Syria

Syria is where Obama's foreign policy follies are laid bare and found in disarray. That can no longer be debatable, but what is debatable is what to do about this disaster. Republican Congressman Tom Cotton. and hopefully the next Senator from Arkansas, along with Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo, made a case for striking at Syria. I will add a better case than Secretary of State John Kerry and his boss, President Obama.

Cotton and Pompeo begin with how this would embolden Iran when they note, “Obama drew [a] 'red line' a year ago. . . .With or without that comment, our enemies and allies would still be watching to see whether we will tolerate rogue dictators using weapons of mass destruction on the borders of our allies. Inaction will tell Assad, Kim Jong Un and others that it’s open season for the use of chemical weapons. Assad might also transfer these weapons to his terrorist ally Hezbollah, which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction…The day the United States fails to act against Assad is likely the day Iran’s supreme leader spins his uranium centrifuges into overdrive. If we won’t act against a use of weapons of mass destruction, Iran will surely believe that we will not act against its nuclear program. And once Iran has a nuclear breakout, its nuclear warheads could hit the United States in less than two years.”

They added that our troops would benefit and observed, “Innocent civilians are no less dead from conventional artillery than from chemical weapons, and the key difference is scale. Conventional weapons can cause only so many casualties. With chemical weapons, what kills hundreds today can kill tens of thousands tomorrow.” Their final point is that failure to act can destabilize the region even further as they note, “The last thing Israel needs is Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the march. Jordan, a close Arab ally and Israel’s partner in peace, is being destabilized by a massive influx of Syrian refugees. Turkey, our NATO ally, faces a similar refugee crisis.”

The case they make is independent of the incompetence of the present administration. Note the case these two representatives make has proven superior to those being made by the administration who has been totally reckless in its foreign policy. What these debates over Syria have shown is that the debate of Republicans has proven to be more useful and instructive as we have seen three sets of arguments. The libertarian non-interventionist Rand Paul has made a forceful case for not going to Syria based on a limited government basis. Then hawks like Marco Rubio, who also oppose intervention, oppose it for a different reason: a lack of trust in Obama and a failure to see how what is being proposed will alter the course of the Syrian civil war or remove Assad from power. From Rubio and others' position, Assad will not be dissuaded from using chemical weapons in the future. Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes wrote for this group, “But a successful intervention requires a commander in chief committed to changing the war’s momentum and changing the regime in Damascus. The White House has eschewed both. The only thing worse than not intervening in Syria would be a failed intervention—an outcome that will make future American interventions, by this president or another, in Syria or elsewhere, even more difficult.” If Cotton supports the military option, Rubio and others question the wisdom of a military action if the objective are limited.

What authority does the President have? The War Power act does give the President leeway to initiate military action if needed, but there are limitations since the President has to notify Congress within a short period of time, and there is a 60-day limitation before the President has to go back to Congress for further approval. It should be remembered that Obama did not fulfill the provision of the War Powers in his Libya campaign and only came to Congress when he was abandoned by almost all of the world.

George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush went to Congress for authorization to use force. While they never use the word, “I declare war,” what they did certainly counted as a declaration of war since they were asking for the right to use military force against Iraq. Obama has essentially been a law upon himself, as he has simply obeyed laws he wanted and dispensed with enforcing those he disagreed with or simply found inconvenient. His delaying of employer mandate of Obamacare to 2015 is just one example, and the Wall Street Journal noted the day after the beginning of the congressional hearing, Obama decided that he was not going to enforce drug laws, and then overseas, denied he stated the famous red line statement that everyone remembers him saying, while declaring it is Congress and the world's credibility at stake, not his. It is hard to support a military operation with goals unknown run by a President who doesn’t even take his own words seriously. Maybe that is the rub of this. Stephen Hayes' position may take hold as Congress may not be willing to start a war to save a Presidency when our national interest has not been fully stated or the goal of the operation. The only debate worth listening are the Republicans since the only reason Democrats will support this action, is to support their President and not the quality of the policy. Considering how the left seems intent to destroy the Bush’s Presidency, now Democrats and Obama seek Republican cover to start his war.

Obama is to blame for this mess and needs to be held accountable. He ignored Congress and has shown disdain for his political opponents for the past five years. He has rarely sought council from Congress, but now after shredding America’s reputation and refusing to forge alliances with our friends, he faces a crisis where he's asking Congress to bail him out. A commander in chief who refuses to take responsibility is hardly one to follow over the top. So what now?

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