Wouldn’t it be terrible if the American people could stop America from going to war?
September 3, 2013, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When the idea of an Iraq invasion was first floated back in 2002, I was lukewarm. “Why?”, I thought. But then I heard France was against it, and it occurred to me: not-invading-Iraq based on France not wanting us to would set a terrible precedent. So I was on board.

I kid, but there’s a kernel of truth there.

What’s funny is that we’re seeing a sort of mirror-image version of that bizarro logic now when it comes to Syria. What worries the meaninglessly-bomb-Syria crowd now is the terrible precedent that might be set if we were to not-bomb-Syria based on us not wanting us to.

UPDATE: I mean, it’s really quite shocking:

Republicans should support some version of the authorization of force resolution. They should do so even if they think that the President’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks; they should do so even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté; and they should so even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.

I’d stack up my exaggerated-for-effect 2002 position of Let’s-Invade-Iraq-Cuz-France-Doesn’t-Want-Us-To against this retarded gobbledygook any day.

14 Comments so far
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I’m just going to throw this out there, and I’m only half joking: we should start settling international disputes through head of state thunder dome. If Obama wants to call out Assad, they should both travel to a stadium in Madagascar and try to beat each other to death with rocks until someone wins. Winner takes country. Stop giving countries back after you win a war.

Comment by Mark

Wouldn’t it be terrible if the American people could not stop America from going to war? Wouldn’t it be terrible if the American people had to submit to any damn war the government wanted to fight?

Comment by RPLong

Never would’ve thought any of my blog posts would need sarcasm tags…

Comment by The Crimson Reach

It didn’t. I caught your sarcasm, and I was agreeing with you.

Comment by RPLong

True enough. I’ve had it up to here with starting military actions that, however sensible they might have seemed at the start, cannot engage the attention and support of the American people. Better not to start at all than to get a bunch of people killed then fade away in midstream. So if the American people don’t think the military intervention makes sense, then let’s don’t start it at all, for a change.

Comment by Texan99

Especially in a case where it *doesn’t* seem sensible from the start in the slightest.

It’s truly astonishing to me how people who had hissy fits about Iraq are on board with attacking Syria. The (non-)case for attacking Syria makes the case for attacking Iraq look open-and-shut.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

Ok, serious question here: why hasn’t Congress voted on this yet? What are they supposed to be waiting for? Are we intended to believe that congressmen have been blissfully unaware of the happenings in Syria such that they haven’t been able to form an opinion? Or does it just take time to mobilize the bribery and intimidation machine?

Or maybe they have voted and I just didn’t notice, which is eminently possible.

Comment by Matt

They’re going through the ‘process’. It seems to have gotten ‘out of committee’, in the Senate. Which did (I gather) involve a bit of horse-trading regarding the actual wording of the resolution. (They had to make it more warlike to make McCain happy, or something.) And then I guess that means the Senate would vote on a version of the bill and if it passed, send it to the House. And yes, there will probably be more horse trading around all that to try to get the votes in place.

That’s not as dumb as it sounds. I know it seems like everyone should have made up their mind whether to attack Syria yea or nay by now, but the question of how the attack resolution is worded is not unimportant. Does it give Obama the authority to send ground troops or not? does it set a time limit? etc. It’s perfectly reasonable that some people might have a ‘nay’ view for less-limited strike authority but a ‘yea’ view for something more limited. So the scope of the actual resolution is important and has to be worked out.

The fact that they’re going through what appears to be the normal process (albeit a bit expedited from some normal bill) instead of some kind of emergency session does seem to indicate that basically nobody views Syria as any sort of immediate urgent priority though. Indeed, even by Obama’s own pitch for the attack, it’s not an emergency per se that we have to act on urgently. The whole stated point of the attack isn’t to overthrow anyone or gain any strategic aim, it’s just to ‘punish’ and ‘send a message to’ the Assad regime – apparently, this could be done tomorrow, or next week, or whenever.

It is kind of funny however this spectacle of US legislators having a leisurely debate over whether to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to dropping bombs on specific targets in Syria, while the world press (including, presumably, Syria) looks on – as if Syria will just freeze itself in place while we figure it all out, cuz it would be no-fair not to. I thought the same thing during the (far, far longer) ‘rush to war’/’run-up to the war’ in Iraq, as the spectacle of it all back then was even more perverse.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

That’s a good explanation, I guess I was expecting this vote to be more on the broad idea of attacking Syria rather than the nitty-gritty details of exactly how it is to be done. Especially since Obama has already stressed he doesn’t need Congressional approval and it just doing this to be nice.

I’m going to go ahead and at least partially stick with my “bribes and intimidations” theory. I mean, it takes time for AIPAC to make all those phone calls.

Comment by Matt

At least with the previous rush to war, we had leadership.

This whole horse-trading thing is a symptom of politics, not leadership. This is how they do things in Chicago (and Congress too, of course) – no issue, no vote, is ever about the substance; everything is always and only about what you can get for yourself while giving someone else what they want, where what you both want is personal wealth and power.

The right way for an American administration and Congress to commit warfare is for the administration to state what they wish to do, what they hope to accomplish by it, and why. Then tell Congress to say yes or no. That’s all the “process” required by the Constitution, and any more than that demeans the country and thwarts our goals.

Comment by eddie

I’m really not trying to let everyone out-cynical me (which would be a first!), but I do hold out the possibility of sincere and honorable disagreement here.

Consider two possibilities for what an administration might “wish to do”:

(A) destroy Assad’s military-chemical infrastructure only, or
(B) unseat the Assad government itself whatever that takes.

I can easily imagine honorable Congressmen who would support doing either:

(A) but not (B) – on the theory of not wanting to empower e.g. Al Qaeda
(B) but not (A) – on the theory that war is all-or-nothing and no half measures

Hence, a war powers resolution would have to clarify for a Congressman of type 1 that it doesn’t empower the President to do (B), before he will feel comfortable voting yes. And vice versa for a Congressman of type 2.

So that’s why I don’t think it’s automatically bad or corrupt or necessarily boils down to ‘bribery’ for Congress to be haggling over exactly what the resolution says and empowers.

Comment by The Crimson Reach

…except that, it’s such an empty exercise…. Once given the “cover” of a Congressional resolution with whatever language, all bets are off and he’ll do whatever he wants.

Comment by ColoComment

He’ll probably do that anyway. Another good reason not to give him anything.

Comment by Texan99

Some legislators are not persuaded that Assad really conducted the attacks. Russia released a detailed report today arguing that the rebels did it. Normally I’d be skeptical, but with this crowd I can’t just discount the possibility that Putin has caught them out.

Comment by Texan99

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