Posts tagged ‘Syrian War’

Censure the President

Our so-called constitutional conservatives treat the national charter the way a certain kind of Christian treats the Bible: They like to carry around copies of it, to wave it at their rivals, to talk about it, and to treat it as a kind of magic item — but if you should suggest they actually read it or apply it, well, that sounds awfully idealistic.

It is painful, and a little embarrassing, to listen to conservatives try to rationalize President Donald Trump’s plainly illegal attack on the government of murderous Syrian caudillo Bashar al-Assad. Each rationalization is shallower and sillier than the last.

. . .

One of the things that are supposed to distinguish conservatives from progressives — and once did — is an abiding respect for, even a cherishing of, process. Woodrow Wilson and his ilk despised the Constitution, just as our would-be political-speech police despise it today, because it stands in the way of what they believe to be the right thing. And no doubt it sometimes does stand in the way of the right thing — the point of the Constitution is to create a political order with a particular character, not to ensure that we get our preferred outcome in every federal matter. To see conservatives adopt the outcome-above-order attitude in a matter as important as launching a preemptive war in Syria is dispiriting.

Congressional Republicans have two choices: One, they can censure the president and insist that no further action be taken without legal authorization. Two, they can stop calling themselves “constitutional conservatives,” because those who knuckle under now are no such thing.

Censure the President


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The Moral Preener in Chief Obama Is A War President. Yeah, Another War!

President Barack Obama has been evidently reluctant to go to war in Syria, but has started down the long and winding road by deciding to provide weapons to the insurgents. Why he is risking involvement in another conflict in another Muslim nation is hard to fathom.

However, the president did act only after former president Bill Clinton warned that Obama could end up looking like a “total wuss” and “a total fool” if the latter did not drag America into war. If there is anyone who should not be giving war-related advice, it is Bill Clinton.

His “splendid little war” in Kosovo left a mess in its wake, including ethnic cleansing by America’s putative allies. Indeed, he always had a curious view of the purpose of war. He once expressed his frustration that he likely would not be considered a great president without prosecuting a major conflict.

Moreover, why is Clinton of all people accusing another president of looking like a “total wuss” and “a total fool” for hesitating to go to war? After all, as I relate in the American Spectator, he engaged in all manner of personal maneuvering to avoid being drafted to fight in Vietnam.

Only Wusses Go to War Without Cause

Moral Preener in Chief and a Former Moral Preener in Chief

In the context of a war that has killed some 93,000 people so far, it is not clear why the 150 or so casualties the White House attributes to chemical weapons should make a decisive difference, except that the president threatened “enormous consequences” in response to any use of such weapons. “If Mr. Obama did not respond in some fashion,” The New York Times explained, “it would have been taken as a question of credibility since he had previously said such a development would change his calculus.”

This perceived need to preserve credibility is a key ingredient in any foreign policy quagmire, since it discourages second thoughts and dictates stubborn persistence in the face of failure. No matter how misguided in theory or disastrous in practice an intervention is, changing course is always a threat to credibility, a threat that looms larger the farther a president goes down the wrong path. All the more reason to resist what Obama used to call “a war of choice.”

The case for caution is reinforced by the fact that, odious as the current government of Syria is, there is no guarantee that whatever follows it will be better, especially since the strongest element of the opposition forces is militantly anti-American. No matter what the Obama administration says about making sure that U.S. weapons go to the right rebels, it is effectively siding with Sunni extremists against Shiite extremists in a sectarian war.

The Red Line to Damascus: Obama paints himself into a Syrian quagmire.

Do Presidents become more interventionist once they take office?

Why yes, yes they do.

Even as the US effectively admits that its 12-year war in Afghanistan has failed, by agreeing to talks with the Taliban, and as British generals warn that defence-spending cuts mean the UK could not fight such wars again, the president and prime minister still attempt to rattle their broken sabres over Syria. What the final form of intervention might be remains uncertain; however reluctant they are, events can take on a momentum of their own once the interventionist snowball starts rolling downhill.

The one thing of which we can be clear enough is that, to paraphrase Brendan Behan, there is no situation so terrible that it cannot be made worse by the intervention of a semi-impotent imperialist policeman.

Syria: semi-impotent West can still make it worse



Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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