Almost the first thing said by the president in his speech on 10 September was that this country can’t solve civil wars with force. Precisely two years ago, this country was bombing the bejesus out of Libya in an effort, with force, to solve that country’s civil war and without any Congressional approval or declaration of war. Resulting Libyan deaths, the number never made public, and the utter chaos in that benighted nation accrue unilaterally to President Obama.
More pointedly, the military who carried out his orders had the right not to obey and indeed could be prosecuted for obeying. This is Article 92, 1(c) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: “A general order or regulation is lawful unless it is contrary to the Constitution, the laws of the United States, or lawful superior orders or for some other reason is beyond the authority of the official issuing it.”
Per the Constitution, the president has the power without Congressional assent to use the military if there is a clear, immediate and present danger to the nation. The War Powers Act builds on that mandate. Libya, with virtually no military establishment, posed no threat to this or any other country in 2011 and was simply embroiled in civil war. Obama as commander-in-chief (something he never lets anyone forget) ordered decent men to savage Libya from the air and later on the ground through supplying weapons, many if not most now in the hands of cutthroats in Syria.
The military could have disobeyed with impunity and the president should have been immediately impeached for his disregard of Constitutional requirements and consequent blatant attack (unilateral declaration of war) on another sovereign nation. A vapid House did not impeach, most likely because of the predictable charge of racism.
The House impeached former president Clinton for a much lesser crime—perjury—that cost no lives. The Senate – currently democrat-controlled – would not have convicted Obama (two-thirds vote needed) but the system should have been engaged. No president should have the power to act unilaterally militarily in the absence of clear and present danger.
The president has learned nothing from his 2011 miscue because he got away with it. Instead, as far back as 2011 he told Syrian president Assad to relinquish his office and get out of his country. Assad went nowhere. A year ago, Obama set a “red line” vis-à-vis the use of chemical weapons. In late August, he announced to the world that without Congressional approval he planned to bomb the bejesus out of Syria, no threat to this or any other country but simply mired in civil war.
Obama’s “reason” for bombing Syria accrued to alleged use of gas in a Damascus suburb, which he said he KNEW was administered on orders of Assad but has never said from where he got that information. Nor has anyone explained from where or whom the pictures of the atrocity came or why an independent agency has claimed the death-total to be less than half that reported by the administration.
According to McClatchy (Lexington Herald-Leader, 10 September), the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, using intercepted communications via an intelligence-gathering ship, concluded that Assad repeatedly rejected field requests to use chemical weapons. That agency trumps anything in the U.S. administration, known for outrageous lies such as the one perpetrated by now-NSC head honcho Susan Rice a year ago regarding the “Benghazi Massacre.”
The president requested that Congress not take up his promised assault on Syria, for which he’s announced no end-game other than that the attack is not to dethrone Assad, notwithstanding his insistence for years that Assad had to go. Instead, he announced that he and Russian President Putin had already (apparently secretly) been discussing just how to separate Assad from his weapons, notwithstanding that this idea was treated by State Secretary Kerry as a complete surprise in remarks the other day, though Kerry said that plan wouldn’t happen anyway.
Strangely, the president said that since Syria comprised no direct threat to the U.S., he decided to consult Congress. In other words, He wanted to bomb the Syrians but would have been uncomfortable without a reason, which a potentially willing (and stupid) Congress could furnish. Go figure.
And so it goes.