The Obama administration is pushing hard for an attack on Syria, against the regime of Bashir Assad, and in support of Syrian rebels, including those backed by Al-Queda. Sec. of State John Kerry has claimed the administration has the authority to attack without Congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution. “The President has the right and he has asserted that right that he could do what’s necessary to protect the national security of the United States at any point in time,” said Kerry. What isn’t said is how an attack on Syria protects our national security. Republicans like John McCain & Lindsay Graham also strongly support an attack in support of the rebels.
But is it legitimate to claim authority under the War Powers Resolution? And do we really want to back the same people who, just 12 years ago, attacked the US and murdered nearly 3,000 Americans?
To my mind, the answer to the second question should be a resounding ‘No!’. Better yet, it should be ‘Hell, no!’. Unlike the Axis powers during World War II, for example, we’ve signed no treaties with Al-Queda, ending hostilities with them. Unlike in a ‘traditional’ war, we’re not dealing with a state, with a governmental body that can sign & adhere to a treaty, and has control over its military. Instead, we’ve got a number of affiliated groups who’d be more than willing to break out on their own if it served their own interests.
Sure, we’ve backed leaders around the world who were far from admirable. The Shah of Iran, for example, wasn’t anyone I’d want leading my country by any means.
But to support a terrorist group- an organization whose members murder non-Muslims, and Muslims who don’t follow the same brand of Islam as its members is insanity! Syria’s rulers and the Syrian rebels on the other side are both committing atrocities. Why should we back one group of America hating thugs over another group of America hating thugs? Why support radical Islamist groups like the rebels (and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt)? Shouldn’t we be supporting the Coptic Christians in Egypt? Or those in Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon who are being attacked by members of Boko Haram?
Do I support sending American soldiers to risk their lives on behalf of a group of madmen opposed to another group of madmen? No. I don’t even know that I’d support sending Americans to defend the Copts or the innocents in Africa being killed by Boko Haram. Sending them arms so they can defend themselves? Absolutely!
The War Powers Resolution was passed as a Joint Congressional Resolution which limits the power of the President to conduct war without Congressional approval. It requires Congressional notification within 48 hours of committing forces to action, limits that action to no more than 60 days, and allows a further 30 days for withdrawal without Congressional approval. Armed forces can be sent only on declaration of war by Congress, by statutory authorization, or in case of a national emergency brought about by an attack on the US or its territories, possessions or armed forces.
So just what national security issues would be furthered by aiding the Syrian rebels? Would it be that Obama drew a line over Assad’s use of chemical weapons, and by failing to respond, he’d look weak? Do Obama, McCain, Graham and other believe that we can win friends among the radical Islamic movement by backing the Syrian rebels? Or are they just wanting to try to spread democracy and the ‘Arab Spring’ movement to another part of the world, regardless of the long term risk to the US its security, and the security of our allies?