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The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
—James Madison, Speech in the Virginia State Convention of 1829-1830
Unilaterally, President Obama intended to bomb Syria. Being a loyal team player, Secretary of State Kerry dutifully set the stage for the attack. The Washington Examiner reports:
On Monday, Aug. 26, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a rare speech at the State Department in which he said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was “undeniable” and a “moral obscenity.”
Then, on Friday, Aug. 30, Kerry made an impassioned defense of unilateral military action, calling the chemical attack a “crime against humanity.
After the British parliament voted against war with Syria and polls showed Americans were overwhelming opposed to war, President Obama abruptly decided to seek the approval of Congress. In other words, because of a strong, public disapproval, Obama the sought the cover of Congress.
Then, on On September 3rd, Senator Corker inquired about the President's intended mission. There was a revealing and deeply troubling answer by the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.
Sen. Bob Corker: “What is it you’re seeking?”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”
In a response to Senator Menendez, General Dempsey also stated:
Sen. Mendez: General Dempsey, what do we envision, in broad terms, this potential military campaign to be in terms of its effect? What do we expect at the end of any authorized action to see the results look like? What is our expectation?
Gen. Dempsey: Yes, thank you, chairman. The task I’ve been given is to develop military options to deter — that is to say, change the regime’s calculus about the use of chemical weapons and degrade his ability to do so — that is to say, both activities directly related to chemical weapons themselves, but also potentially the means of employing them — and anything further than that I would prefer to speak about in a classified setting.
General Dempsey knows his task and duty to “change the regime’s calculus about the use of chemical weapons and degrade his ability to do so.” However, he cannot articulate the objective, “I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.”
Incredibly, it seems President Obama was about to bomb Syria, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff does not know what the President is seeking to achieve.
The President's unilateral pursuit of war is a dangerous abuse of power. This is precisely why America's Founders strongly warned against one person declaring war. As I wrote in a previous post :
Our Constitution requires Congress to declare War. George Mason stated the the president "is not safely to be entrusted with" power to decide on war. James Wilson believed the vote and debate by Congress"will not hurry us into war.
Harmfully, President Obama and many, other presidents and Congresses have not followed the Constitution and have gone to war without an honest and thorough debate resulting in an unclearly defined mission without articulated objectives.
Fortunately, but temporarily, America was spared of another war because of the strong and vocal opposition by the American people. However, America's political elites - Obama, Kerry, Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, and others – citing or endorsing a nebulous and undetermined “national security interest,” have all supported a war with Syria.
Alas, only a strong and persistent “NO” by the American people will stop the undefined, ineffectual and dangerous attack on Syria.