In an interview with the BBC yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the American military is “ready to go” in regards to possible action in Syria. Hagel further said that “We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take.”
With the now-proven chemical attacks that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has visited upon his people, of course it’s easy for American officials to become caught up, once again, in “police mode” to topple another dictator. But there is one glaring detail that Obama and Hagel need to consider when making this decision. Only 9 percent of Americans think “President Barack Obama should act.”
The country has seen this same exact tactic of war declaration in the past. George W. Bush completely bypassed Congress and launched an offensive on Iraq. Now, Hagel is placing the call at Obama’s feet. But Congress has already made it abundantly clear that Obama needs to seeks its approval before making a move. Bush got into some hot water for the same thing.
Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said “I think it’s essential that President Obama comes to Congress, asks for authorization [for a strike on Syria], receives it or not receives it, and then acts with the willingness of the United States Congress.” She continues saying “That’s what President Bush did for previous wars.” And that action brought up the legitimate question of whether Bush and his war-mongering entourage were guilty of war crimes.
A suit was filed against the Bush Jr. warpigs arguing that the administration enacted a “war of aggression.” They were granted immunity by the Department of Justice by invoking the Westfall Act, which “provides that where an individual claims that federal employees damaged him or her through their negligent acts or omissions taken within the scope of the office or employment, a suit against the United States shall be the exclusive remedy for that individual’s claims.”
Now say that Obama does get Congressional approval, then what? Is America going to immerse itself into another Middle Eastern war that’s going to take another untold amount of time and resources?
That fact is that Americans, military troops in particular, are tired. The decade-long American occupation in the Middle East has exhausted the military and the pockets of taxpayers. So far, American occupation in Iraq has cost the country almost $2 trillion and “could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest” from money we borrowed to help fund it.
It’s a shifty call, and President Obama would do well to take a very careful look at all of the possible consequences of deploying military forces to Syria. This is a very simple lesson of recent history.