On Saturday the 31st of August (2013), President Obama announced that he already had the authority to strike Syria over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilian targets. He followed his statement by saying that he would though seek Congressional approval for such military action. This leads me to have to ask a few clarifying questions;
Who has War Powers?
1. Under what authority does the President think he has to act without Congressional authorization for use of our Armed Forces in an offensive military strike against targets in Syria? Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution makes it quite clear that only Congress has the war power. Vague references to the War Powers Resolution of 1973 do not make the case for military action by the President without Congressional approval in this case. The U.S. was not attacked by the Assad regime, which is the prerequisite for the WPR to be utilized for military actions. (It also comes into play once Congress authorizes military action or declares war)
“Trust but Verify “ Ronald Reagan
2. After the tragic debacle of the second Gulf war were the politicization of intelligence misled the American people to support an invasion and occupation of Iraq, the American people are due truth in reporting. We should take Reagan’s quote one step further and say ‘Don’t trust and verify” Without giving away sources and methods, what evidence exists that Assad’s regime ordered a chemical attack against civilian targets?
WMD v. bullets, mortars and rockets
3. Why the ‘red line’ when it comes to chemical attacks on civilian targets but not a similar ‘red line’ when it comes too conventional attacks on civilian targets? A dead child is a dead child.
Violation of international law and norms
4. A possible answer from the Obama administration to my third question might be (and has been) that chemical weapons use against civilian targets violates international law and treaties (a treaty Syria did not sign onto) If the case is to be made that there must be an international response to the Syrian state use of chemical weapons against its own people, than would it not make sense to go through the United Nations and International Criminal Court (ICC)? If not the U.N and ICC than why not a regional response such as by Turkey, the Arab League or Gulf Cooperation Council? Why must the U.S. play (and pay) global policeman?