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Today (August 31), President Obama made a bellicose speech in which he said that he had decided to attack Syria — but wouldn’t do it until he had a supportive vote from Congress. At least that’s the way I interpreted his remarks. “Are you going to strike if Congress disapproves?” shouted a member of the audience. But Obama walked away from her question.

The president had just said he was confident he had the authority to act but out of respect for democracy he wanted to bring Congress into the thing. His thought was characteristically muddled, but the meaning I take from it is that the chief executive views democratic consent as a privilege, not as a right. It is the kind of privilege that mom and dad give to the “family council.” The kind of privilege your boss gives you when he says, “We’re going to go forward with Project X. I’m sure you agree.”

I expect Congress to disappoint him. But if that happens, I’m sorry to say that it will be because the Great Decider has blundered so badly, not because the Little Deciders have rejected the idea of an aggressive executive power.




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Comments

Johnimo

Obama is so objectionable as a President, considering all the underhandedness and conniving of his administration that it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to vote authority to him, even were it for an action deemed otherwise worthy. McCain and Graham have their work cut out for them and I wish them little success.

It's hard to imagine which is more dangerous, the position in which the world finds itself, beset by Islamic dictators and radicals, or the United States, under siege from a left wing President who's every action threatens economic health. I suspect it's the latter.

Jon Harrison

Both Senate and House will endorse Obama's desire to strike Syria. The question is whether the administration will get 60 votes in the Senate -- they don't need 60, but want at least that many. I believe they will get 60 or very close to it.

The world beset by Islamic dictators and radicals, John? The Islamic world is beating up on itself. The West is suffering very little these days from the "danger" of radical Islam. Should it ever come to real war between a united Islamic world and the West, the West will win. The West has deployed a miniscule amount of its real strength in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc. Were it ever to come to a real war, a World War III type battle, Islam would be completely defeated and at the West's mercy. The Islamic world falls further behind the West and East Asia with every passing year. At the same time it is consuming itself in internecine struggles. The Islamic danger (to us, at least) is diminishing, not increasing. This is not to say that Islamic radicals are incapable of pulling off terrorist attacks, even major ones. But the West is not going to collapse in the face of what would amount, on the grand scale, to pinpricks. Now and for the forseeable future we will witness the Islamic world coming apart at the seams.

Jon Harrison

Whether we like it or not, the president, in his role as commander in chief, is generally considered to have the right to initiate hostilities.

Far from being muddled, his thinking is politically based. Let the Congress share the responsibility -- that way it's harder for members to criticize the president's actions. I believe the no vote in the British parliament caused Obama to seek Congressional approval.

The president is to blame for setting down a "red line" that he thought the Syrians would never cross. To his credit, he's never wanted to fight in Syria. But the Syrian regime called his bluff, and now he looks weak and vacillating.

What I want to know why killing 99,000 or so people with bombs or bullets doesn't violate "international norms" while killing about one one-hundreth as many people with gas requires an American military reprisal.

Fred Mangels

Jon is naively assuming the Assad regime actually used chemical weapons. I suppose there's a 1 in 5000 chance that Assad would be dumb enough to use chemical weapons with the west biting at bit to attack him. Never mind being dumb enough to allow U.N. inspectors into the country, then a day or two later launching a large chemical attack fairly close to them. I doubt it, though.

The rebels have everything to gain and nothing to lose by either faking an attack, or using real chemicals to make it look as if the Syrian government forces did it. I'm of the mind that's exactly what happened.

Jon Harrison

"Naively"? The naievte is all on your side, Fred. It's foolish to ignore facts when they diverge from your particular point of view. This is not a Gulf of Tonkin or "Saddam has WMD" situation. The evidence is pretty clear that sarin was used by regime forces in the latest incident.

The Assad regime is fighting for its life. It has bet that Obama will either not use force in response to gas warfare, or that if he does, the regime can survive any likely US retaliation. I say this because it's the reality. Personally, as you know, I oppose ANY American intervention in Syria.

Charles Goines

I tend to question a lot of things and the use of sarin gas as a instrument to control the people by the regime demands more solid proof than I find. I can accept sarin gas was used, but the how and by whom is the foggy part. We really need to avoid foreign entanglements, something Obama ignores.

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