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Monday, 02 September 2013 16:15

Obama Asks Congress, but Claims Power to Launch Syria War Anyway

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Despite absurdly claiming to have the authority to wage war on Syria without so much as a semblance of congressional authorization, President Obama, under immense pressure from the war-weary public and Congress, decided to urge lawmakers to approve his radical plan to ally the U.S. government with Islamist rebels in the effort to oust dictator Bashar al-Assad. Citing dubious supposed “intelligence” suggesting that the Syrian regime deployed chemical weapons, the administration seems confident of securing support from Congress — despite claiming not to need it and vowing to act regardless. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, however, are denouncing the claims, and some are pushing back.

Speaking during a press conference over the weekend, Obama said that, “after careful deliberation,” he decided the U.S. military should overtly join the war by attacking Syrian authorities. The announcement came after years of quiet, unlawful assistance to “opposition” forces — taxpayer funding dating to before the war broke out, arms and training for rebel fighters, and much more — failed to depose the tyrant, a former U.S. government terror-war ally. According to the president’s latest announcement, the military strikes would not constitute “open-ended intervention” or include “boots on the ground.”      

Noting that U.S. forces are ready to attack whenever he decides — “and I'm prepared to give that order” — Obama nevertheless said he had made a “second” decision. “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress,” he explained, as if seeking congressional approval were some sort of kind gesture rather than a constitutional requirement that could result in impeachment if ignored. It appears to more than a few analysts as though the major, bipartisan outcry against more lawless wars may have forced his hand.

“Over the last several days, we've heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard,” Obama continued, presumably referring to letters from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle warning the president that the executive branch does not have the authority to launch a war on its own. “So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they've agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.”

Of course, in recent days, there has been deepening skepticism over the administration’s alleged “intelligence,” the desirability of supporting radical Islamist rebels in many cases led by self-described al Qaeda operatives, and even the president’s credibility itself. In an apparent attempt to assuage those concerns, Obama also said he would provide “information” to Congress about the chemical attack, which numerous experts and governments have suggested was a so-called “false flag,” as well as why Syria’s civil war supposedly has “profound implications for America’s national security.” 

However, in a stunning display of either constitutional ignorance or brazen defiance of his oath to the U.S. Constitution, Obama re-emphasized his wildly mistaken belief that he could start a war without Congress. “I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization,” he claimed, drawing a swift rebuke from critics while openly contradicting his campaign-trail statements correctly pointing out that the president cannot start a war without congressional approval.

While Obama claimed leaders in Congress agreed with his decision to seek approval from lawmakers, members of both parties have become increasingly vocal in trying to restrain the out-of-control executive branch. In a harshly worded August 28 letter to the president, for example, well over 100 Republicans explained that the Constitution and the War Powers Act both require congressional approval prior to ordering the use of military force in Syria.

“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution," Republicans explained in the letter, adding that they viewed Obama’s reasoning in the unlawful war on Libya as “unconstitutional” as well. "If you deem that military action in Syria is necessary, Congress can reconvene at your request."

More than 50 Democrats, meanwhile, fired off a similar letter reminding the president of the Constitution and his oath to uphold and defend it. "Congress has the constitutional obligation and power to approve military force,” their letter explained, adding that they “strongly urge” Obama to obtain congressional approval before committing U.S. forces to Syria’s civil war. The Democrat signatories also made clear that they wanted to see the United Nations investigation of the reported chemical attacks completed.

In a brief lesson on the Constitution, Democrat lawmakers also reminded Obama of the oath he swore. "While the ongoing human rights violations and continued loss of life are horrific, they should not draw us into an unwise war — especially without adhering to our own constitutional requirements,” continued the letter, drafted by liberal Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and signed by 53 other Democrats. “As elected officials, we have a duty to represent the will and priorities of our constituents, consistent with the Constitution we all swore to uphold and defend.”

In his latest public speech, Obama correctly pointed out that the U.S. government does not need any sort of UN permission to act. “I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council,” he said. The rhetoric, though, marked a sharp contrast to previous statements made by top administration officials who claimed that the global body or NATO could, in fact, order American forces into war without Congress. 

However, despite the new tone on UN approval, among the primary reasons cited by Obama as justification for war were upholding the “international system,” standing up to others “who flout fundamental international rules,” following through on “the accords we sign,” and other similar notions about defending the world order. “Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning,” Obama added, suggesting the U.S. government and American forces needed to continue serving as the muscle behind the deeply controversial “international order.” 

Analysts are divided on why the president decided to seek congressional approval even as he falsely claimed not to need it. Some suggested that Congress may have finally been willing to put its foot down as recent polls showed less than 10 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria. Even U.S. troops were flooding social-media outlets with anonymous pictures of themselves saying they did not join the military to support al-Qaeda. Other analysts argued that Obama did not want to be solely responsible for joining a civil war on behalf of self-styled al-Qaeda Islamists — and all that would entail if and when the “rebels” succeed in taking over Syria.

Also, the president’s bid for congressional permission came shortly after the British Parliament rebuked U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s war mongering and voted not to join the conflict. The crushing defeat for the intervention agenda, unsurprisingly, sparked even more furious calls for Congress to rein in Obama’s unlawful schemes. After all, why should the British people’s representatives get to vote down a war while Americans’ voices are brazenly ignored?

Of course, in Libya, the president defiantly ignored lawmakers and the Constitution by launching an unlawful war to unseat despot Moammar Gadhafi — also a former U.S. government terror-war ally prior to the Obama administration’s decision to support radical Islamists and al-Qaeda leaders against him. With Libya still in chaos — not to mention the ongoing Benghazi scandal and the accompanying calls for impeachment — it is possible that Obama did not want to push Americans any further, fearing an unprecedented potential backlash in the wake of yet another unlawful war.   

Whatever the motivations for seeking congressional approval, however, senior administration officials have also made clear that Obama can and very well might attack regardless of what lawmakers think. "We don't contemplate that the Congress is going to vote no," Secretary of State John Kerry said confidently after Obama’s speech, adding incorrectly that the president has the “right” to take action "no matter what Congress does.” “America intends to act," Kerry also said, dangerously conflating the out-of-control administration with “America.”

Still, despite open threats to ignore Congress and the Constitution — spectacular assertions that more than a few lawmakers, even among Democrats, have suggested could be grounds for impeachment — news reports indicate that the administration is fiendishly working to obtain cover from Congress prior to launching an overt war. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a leading critic of unconstitutional wars in the Senate, put the odds of House lawmakers rejecting the bid at “at least 50/50.” Other members of Congress said they did not think the move would be approved, while some said it probably would. 

It appears as though getting a declaration of war, which is constitutionally required, is not even on the radar. However, even if Congress refuses to approve “authorization to use military force,” analysts say Obama launching an unlawful war anyway remains a very real prospect. Critics of the war mongering and the serious threat to constitutional governance are urging concerned Americans to contact their representatives and demand that Congress restrain the administration before it does even further damage.

Photo of President Obama: AP Images

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Related articles:

Does Obama Have the Constitutional Power to Go to War in Syria?

Obama Ready to Launch Unilateral Military Assault on Syria

Doubts Grow About Perpetrators Behind Chemical Attack in Syria

Kucinich: Strike on Syria Makes U.S. "Al-Qaeda Air Force"

Amid Syria Uproar, CIA Files Show U.S. Helped Saddam Gas Iranians

Obama Lobbies Reluctant Congress to Support Arming Syrian Rebels       

Libya: Now What?

4 comments

  • Comment Link Tony Butler Tuesday, 03 September 2013 05:04 posted by Tony Butler

    Obama intends to ally the US with the rebels? But they, along with the UK, already are, and have been for years. The Muslim Brotherhood are bed buddies with our politicians, and claim they have no intel of any militant, or terrorist activity against them.

    The other group leading the rebels against the regime that has protected Christians for decades is Al Queda.
    Someone is taking us all for fools - I suspect it's the same charlatons responsible for endorsing the UN's CO2 emissions fraud, which in reality is simply a wealth redistribution tax, paid by the industrial West, to benefit Africa.

    They said so, when discussing the idea, before its imposition, in Mexico during its African Review. They discussed two taxes, a Tobin Tax, or Carbon Tax, the Carbon Tax won.

  • Comment Link rprew Monday, 02 September 2013 19:29 posted by rprew

    Why ask a question if the answer doesn't matter? The guy is displaying his psychotic narcissist side again."I know what is best. Being the benevolent person I am, I desire that you openly cooperate and bow to my bidding."

  • Comment Link Ettore Greco Monday, 02 September 2013 17:11 posted by Ettore Greco

    There is no doubt that these chemical attacks were carried out by the opposition rebels guided by Israeli, UK and US secret services. Like there is no doubt that Obama was pushed over and over to fight this war and finally fell into the trap of the Zionists. But this uncomfortable position could offer the perfect timing for Obama to turn the boat around and change the American foreign policy. The same hidden hand that carried out 9/11 and supplied the false evidence before the Iraq war is now responsible for these chemical attacks to escalate the Conflict. Instead of an aimless attack in Syria, Obama should put all his efforts to first find those responsible for these chemical attacks and then go after their sponsors. Then he would find out that CIA and other secret State agencies are acting independently from the US president and under the umbrella of an Anglo-Judaic group with an agenda aiming at a War of Religion meaning World War 3.

    A group of Zionists with George Bush still today at the head of secret services in the US, UK and Israel, is plotting what now would seem unthinkable.
    A new event of great magnitude will expand everywhere the conflict between Jews, Muslims and Christians.

    The next World War of Religion is already a done deal behind the backs of all people which will be forced to fight for their own Countries in their obligation as citizens. This is to bring chaos and anarchy in all places and to build in the end the most sinister dictatorship, a death machine, the New World Order.

    The Deception supported by the media is the Zionists main weapon and there is a risk that most people will realize what is happening only when it will be too late and there will be no alternatives.

    From here it is the need to now lay the foundations for one alternative Front to oppose this detailed Zionist Plan which is founded upon the Biblical concept of one "chosen people" and that justifies any mean based on its Belief that Equality does not exist.

    The platform of this Front must outline for the future one clear Direction to present to the people as an alternative to the pyramidal system in which we live. It must also solve the Human conflict at its root where is buried the dilemma between Individualism and Equality. For this, it will take a new form of government called Commutalism.

    Although, even before a new form of government a new Humankind will need one new Awareness. Individualism and Equality have new meanings in light of a scientific discovery that now binds one new Science with Religion.
    The link that was missing between those two is Wavevolution.


    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/index.html

  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Monday, 02 September 2013 15:40 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    I think that Obama is waffling on going into Syria, because the INSIDERS that are behind and above Obama are still weighing the pros and cons vis á vis the Russian bloc's strength to resist this.

    It wouldn't do to break up the growing One-World merger of the US with the former Soviet Union.

    The question is this: "Can we trade off trying bring the Arab World into the Core from the Gap (See http://theglitteringeye.com/?p=1149) at the cost of losing our campaign of comfortably merging the U.S. with the Soviet Union (what Ford Foundation President Rowan Gaither said to Norman Dodd was the plan)?

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