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CNN Op-Ed: Obama, don't rush into war in Syria

August 30, 2013 in Politics & Elections

The enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.
On one side we have al-Qaida; on the other side we have Syria’s authoritarian president Bashar al-Assad. On one side we have Islamic jihadists; on the other side we have Christians.
In all likelihood the Assad regime has used chemical weapons to kill civilians. And without a doubt Islamic rebels have kidnapped and killed priests and civilians.
It seems on all sides we have violence and chaos and it is unclear if any side will, in the end, be a friend of the United States.
The Constitution gave the power to declare war to Congress. One of our founding fathers, James Madison, specifically argued that the executive branch was most prone to war and for that reason the power to declare war was vested with the legislature.
If the debate were to come to Congress, two great ironies must be overcome:
1. The arms supplied to the Islamic rebels may well be used against Christians;
2. The Islamic rebels we aim to arm are allied with al-Qaida.
The war in Syria has no clear national security connection to the United States and victory by either side will not necessarily bring in to power people friendly to the United States.
The United States should condemn the use of chemical weapons. We should ascertain who used the weapons and we should have an open debate in Congress over whether the situation warrants U.S. involvement. The Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress, not the President.
Recent statements by the Obama administration concerning the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons indicate that we may be on the precipice of war with Syria. Without adequate information and intelligence, military intervention in that nation’s civil war would be an unwise decision. Based on the knowledge of the situation that we do have, such action will assuredly be an unwise decision for the long-term interests and security of the United States.
Furthermore, our Constitution delegates war-making powers to Congress for an explicit reason – to provide a check on presidents who might make unwise or hasty decisions in foreign affairs. Syria is not an exception to this rule, but a good example of why the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war and not the executive branch.
The unquestionable murkiness of the situation in Syria demands congressional debate …read more


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