Friday, August 30, 2013

Shouldn't Congress be Consulted?/ Military Officers/ Francoise Hollande/ Angela Merkel

NBC News queried 700 adults on Aug 28-29, 2013.   The most interesting answer I found to be the following:

Q12  Do you think that President Obama should or should not be required to receive approval from Congress before taking military action in Syria?

Should be required to receive approval ................... 79

Should not be required to receive approval ............. 16
Depends (VOL) ........................................................ 1
Not sure .................................................................... 4

A WaPo editorial agreed, titled:  

The Post’s View:  President Obama should consult Congress before striking Syria

The media have been finding quotes from Senator and Candidate Obama, and Senator Biden, in which both contradicted the current Presidential stance: 

As a senator and presidential candidate in 2007, Mr. Obama said, "The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the president would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent."
Biden, also a senator and presidential candidate in 2007, said he would move to impeach President Bush if he unilaterally attacked Iran because of its nuclear programs.In 1998, Biden said on the Senate floor, "To be sure, the commander in chief ensures that the president has the sole power to direct U.S. military forces in combat. But that power - except in very few limited instances - derives totally from congressional authority."
From the WaPo comes a piece quoting former military officers and current anonymous officers who question the wisdom of a proposed attack:
... The potential consequences of a U.S. strike include a retaliatory attack by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — which supports Assad — on Israel, as well as cyberattacks on U.S. targets and infrastructure, U.S. military officials said.
“What is the political end state we’re trying to achieve?” said a retired senior officer involved in Middle East operational planning who said his concerns are widely shared by active-duty military leaders. “I don’t know what it is. We say it’s not regime change. If it’s punishment, there are other ways to punish.” The former senior officer said that those who are expressing alarm at the risks inherent in the plan “are not being heard other than in a pro-forma manner.”
Francoise Hollande says France is ready, whatever that might mean:  “There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them,” Hollande said, according to Reuters. “We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”

UPDATE Sept 7:  After the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, French President Francois Hollande contradicted his foreign minister, saying France too would wait to hear from the UN analysts.

Germany, on the other hand, is facing national elections soon.  German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the Neue Osnabrücker newspaper that Berlin’s participation in a U.S.-led coalition has “neither been asked nor is it being considered by us.”  Guess Angela Merkel isn't ready to put German participation to a vote.

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