Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria - The Way to Enter (or Not Enter) a War

Do I personally want the U.S to go to war in Syria? No. Do I want anyone to be gassed by their own government's chemical weapons? No. And I don't think the President wants either of these as well. He just said that he has requested that congressional leaders postpone any vote on the use of force for the US to pursue a diplomatic solution, particularly the one supported by Russia that Iraq declare its chemical weapons and place them under international supervision. I'm just fine with that.

A war in Syria right now does not meet my predetermined standards for going to war. There is no UN authorization, and with Russia, China, and now the UK opposed and on the Security Counsel that is not going to happen. Arguably, there is a legal way to go which would be to consider the Syrian incursions across the border or even the disruption caused by numerous refugees to be an attack on Turkey. As a NATO member, an attack on one is an attack on all. And while the UN acknowledges collective security in these regional organizations, only notice, not pre-approval, is all that is required under the UN Charter (still preserving each nation's sovereignty so no nation actually has to do anything). Yes, I'm overly legalistic as I look to the idealism of international law to structure war and peace. The UN has a messy history, but we're still here instead of flying through the universe as glowing atoms.

It may sound odd, but it's in the US Constitution that international treaties are included as the "supreme law of the land." (Article VI, so deal with it.) Congress has already authorized collective security which is not the same as "war" entering the realm of the dreaded "police action."  And I am of the practical opinion that the Executive has just as much authority and power as the President can get away with. President Obama is consulting with Congress and keeping things as open and honest as they can be with the American public. That's not the way we usually enter wars with patriotic fervor based on falsehoods stirring jingoistic xenophobia. (Any questions? See Cheney, Dick and his boy W.)

The part that really disgusts me, leaving aside the Democrats who voted for war in Iraq out of political cowardice, are the Republican cry-babies and hypocrites who were all for war in Syria until the President appeared to be. I set aside some of the Randian tea-party types who are generally out to lunch on most things, but are fairly consistent in opposing war of any type under the theory of limited presidential power.

It doesn't matter if the President has a success or failure, there are certain elements of the right that will always find fault. And I just heard a President put forward American ideals in the middle of a difficult struggle that has been open and transparent as we discuss it on a world-wide scale. Nobody seems to want war in Syria. And now Syria and Russia seem willing to admit, for the first time, that Syria actually has such weapons. I don't see how Syria can use them again if we keep up the world discussion and diplomatic pressure with the threat of targeted strikes in our back pocket.

If the current situation has accomplished anything, it is a general reluctance for war. And that is a good thing.

Public discussion of war and diplomacy is messy. That seems like the pure essence of participatory, representative democracy upon which our nation was founded but rarely attempts. We don't want full-scale war in Syria for regime change. As the President said:
 "I have resisted calls for military action. We cannot resolve somebody else’s civil war with force."
The North Star shines brightly tonight.

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