Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Syria: U.S. Executive and Legislative powers avoiding "advise and consent" on War powers?

Jean Purcell

I've been tweeting/twittering like crazy this a.m. over an (apparently) upcoming U.S. strike against selected targets in Syria, due to WMD/chemicals.

Americans need to think about our role in this. What is our role? Isn't it to expect the president to consult with congress?  That's my expectation, because I fear that strikes as a show of force will spark regional conflagration. We will, if not carefully considering what to do, provide ammunition, literally, for Syria's Assad and others to do more than many U.S. leaders are now imagining.  

Where, then, is/are the congress? On holiday? Unable to find a flight back to the capital city to get together with the president's men and women? Already back, but relatively quiet on this issue? Unaware of precedence for calling the president's men and/or women to the Hill to explain themselves and the president? 

What about the congressional foreign relations committees and their roles, to consult with the president, to use their powers to call hearings when military action clouds have formed already? (See a recent Washington Post report.) 

There is no cloud more deadly than a War Cloud full of weapons of destruction and ready to strike with or without a full deliberation.  

What about the region where Syria sits? What about the possibility of a spreading war? What about precipitating a reaction of horrors? There could be deadly retaliation in ways not yet believed likely or possible by western nations. 

The fear that chemical weapons use will spread is a legitimate fear. It is pushing a strong retaliation against Assad's regime, believed to be the source of the gassing of innocents recently in Syria. However...many parties need to be involved in the U.S. before we would impose outside, warring actions. But aggression is being planned, as announced or leaked. An American or coalition military display of anger and/or compassion can worsen the situation and never make it better. Aggressive action would be advertised in Syria, the region, and around the world as western aggression by unaffected interlopers gone wild. It would likely encourage more unwanted Arab action, i.e., terrorist groups outside Syria looking to infiltrate even further.     

Given the growing refugee populations in parts of Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq, one hopes the region and agencies are gearing up remarkably and that borders remain open. 

In my humble opinion, congress should be taking real action to find details of the president's plans and to make it clear that they are advising, as one, either by committees or full chambers. They need to formally communicate with American citizens. They should do more than talking and advising via news programs. At a minimum, congress and the president should be meeting face to face, which used to be the norm. They should be doing this now.

U.S. senate foreign relations committee-looking a bit hawkish on Syria  

U.S. house foreign affairs committee link here-speaking but not asking for meetings or hearings

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