I don’t know why the White House doesn’t just send Syria’s Bashar al-Assad a map of where it intends to attack with Tomahawk and other missiles. The bottom line, however, is that this much heralded military adventure is unconstitutional. The President has no authority to initiate the use of the military against Syria.
This has not stopped presidents from engaging the nation in wars, but the last declaration of war, as specified in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, occurred on December 11, 1941 against Germany as a response to its formal declaration of war against the United States. Three days earlier Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor initiating a state of war.
As the Tenth Amendment Center points out, “Unless fending off a physical invasion or attack, the president is required to get a Congressional declaration of war before engaging in military hostilities in another country.”
Let us be clear about this. Syria has not declared war on the United States and, while the use of gas goes against an international convention against it, the Assad regime has already killed 100,000 Syrians in a civil war. Nor is Syria the only nation in the Middle East known to have used gas. Saddam Hussein gassed several thousand Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in 1988 and used it in his eight-year war against Iran. The West’s response was to do nothing except to condemn it.
As Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, points out, “Warfare is a very serious business whose first imperative is to deploy forces to win—rather than to punish, make a statement, establish a symbolic point, or preen about one’s morality.”
President Obama’s first mode of governance is to make a speech and then to assume the problem is solved. From his very first speech in Cairo in 2009, those in charge in the Middle East interpreted his policies as weakness.
When President Clinton lobbed a few missiles by way of retaliation for al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, Osama bin Laden concluded the U.S. was weak and set about planning the two attacks on the Twin Towers.
Dr. Pipes warns that “Bashar al-Assad’s notorious incompetence means his response cannot be anticipated. Western strikes could, among other possibilities, inadvertently lead to increased regime attacks on civilians, violence against Israel, an activation of sleeper cells in Western countries, or heightened dependence on Tehran. Surviving the strikes also permits Assad to boast that he defeated the United States.”
The Wall Street Journal opined that “there is no good outcome in Syria until Assad and his regime are gone. Military strikes that advance that goal—either by targeting Assad directly or crippling his army’s ability to fight—deserve the support of the American people and our international partners. That’s not what the Administration has in mind.”
What Obama has in mind is a symbolic attack in much the same way killing bin Laden was both necessary and symbolic. In making the announcement Obama declared “Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad,” adding that ”As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.”
Islam, however, is at war with the United States and the West. That is the declared aim of both al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The war in Syria is a civil war. There is no good outcome no matter whether the Assad regime wins or is overthrown. There is no strategic or tactical victory to be achieved by the United States in either case. Simply punishing the regime for using gas achieves nothing except to expend several million dollars’ worth of missiles.
The Tenth Amendment Center points out that “As they did in the war against Libya, those violating these strict constitutional limitations will like refer to an attack on Syria as something other than ‘war.’ But, changing the words they use to describe their actions doesn’t change the constitutional ramifications. Under the Constitution, a war is a war whether you call it a war or something else.”
The time is long past when America must address whether our military interventions in the Middle East have demonstrated any success. To date, they have not. The majority of Americans are opposed to an attack on Syria and both the Constitution and the collected wisdom of the public argue strongly against it.
We are, however, too far down the road thanks to the administration’s declared intention to do so. War it has been said is to be an extension of politics. We will witness a political gesture and one that is intended to demonstrate Obama is a leader internationally and domestically. He is neither.
It will be an attack on the constitutional powers of Congress as much as an attack on Syria.
Source: © Alan Caruba, 2013
By Alan Caruba
The resistance to Obamacare is writing a new chapter in U.S. history. It may well become the most unpopular law since Prohibition became an Amendment to the Constitution in 1919. By 1933, another Amendment repealed it.
Obamacare passed by a straight Democratic party vote on Christmas Eve in 2009. No Republican voted for it and, as one poll recently revealed, a third of Americans are still unaware it is the law of the land. A divided Supreme Court gave it a pass, calling it a tax, but it is a profoundly unconstitutional law insofar as the federal government may not pass a law that requires Americans to purchase something and to fine them if they do not. It is also playing havoc with the economy, delaying recovery as it deters hiring and encourages firing.
Nonetheless, a number of states have gone on record seeking to nullify its enforcement and some are doing the same as regards gun control. Arizona became famous when it passed its own immigration law in response to the federal government’s failure to protect its border with Mexico. The proposed “Gang of Eight” immigration law is facing stiff opposition for its various provisions, most of which do not address the central issue of security on the southern border.
How out of touch is the President? He went to Mexico and blamed the violence arising from its drug cartels on America, saying “Most of the guns used here to commit violence came from America.” He made no mention of the scandalous “Fast and Furious” scheme in which the ATF actually ran guns into Mexico, claiming they would track them. It took an executive order to throw a blanket of silence over it and a compliant media to ignore that scandal.
It is, however, Obamacare that poses the greatest threat to the nation, intruding on the patient-doctor relationship, robbing billions from Medicare to pay for it, requiring states to fund more Medicaid when many are strapped to meet other needs, and putting 16% of the nation’s economy under federal control.
A total of twenty-seven states have filed suit against Obamacare. Two federal judges have upheld its individual mandate to purchase health insurance and two others have ruled that it is unconstitutional.
Twelve states have introduced versions of the Federal Health Care Nullification Act that was drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center. They include Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Alabama, and Maine. All declare that Obamacare is “hereby declared to be invalid, shall not be recognized, is specifically rejected, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect.”
In South Carolina, on May 1st, the state House passed a bill that declares the bill null and void and goes a step further, criminalizing its implementation. Earlier Governor Nikki Haley, in her state of the state address, said that South Carolina does not want and cannot afford Obamacare, saying of the President’s namesake, “not now, not ever.”
The following day, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback sent a letter in response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s opposition to its Second Amendment Protection Act, declaring it unconstitutional; essentially tell him to piss off. “The people of Kansas,” said the Governor, “have clearly expressed their sovereign will.” The same day, Missouri passed a comparable law protecting the Second Amendment.
Not since the years leading up to the Civil War was kicked off on December 20, 1860 when South Carolina voted for secession, has there been such open resistance to the mandates of the federal government by the states on a range of issues. Earlier, in 1832, President Andrew Jackson had threatened to send troops to South Carolina to enforce federal laws.
Nullification, however, will not succeed as a means to rid the nation of Obamacare. To Obama’s dismay, his gun control law failed in Congress when even members of his party joined in voting against it. The fate of immigration reform remains unknown but it will come to a vote soon enough.
The reason why nullification will fail is embedded in the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause states “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be found thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary, notwithstanding.”
That has not discouraged the legislatures of many states from expressing their opposition to Obamacare, intrusions on the Second Amendment right of citizens to bear arms, and to demand the federal government enforce the laws regarding its borders.
There isn’t a constitutional scholar that does not support the Supremacy Clause. The Heritage Foundation has a policy paper on the subject of nullification that says “there is no clause or implied power in either the national or the various state constitutions that enables states to veto federal laws unilaterally.”
The states, though, can express their displeasure and their opposition to federal laws and that is what lies at the heart of the spate of nullification laws that have been passed. As sovereign republics, the states can and do express themselves and, through their elected Senators and Representatives, have the power in concert to repeal obnoxious and injurious federal laws.
That will be the fate of Obamacare.
© Alan Caruba, 2013