Syria is in our face.
We can’t run and we can’t hide. President Obama recklessly painted us into this corner when he declared there was a “red line” with regard to Syrian use of chemical weapons. But his ill-advised rhetoric is not to blame.
Truman began this descent into Constitutional madness, and our lack of Congressional accountability has fomented it.
Without rehashing an endlessly fascinating (I’m being a serious wonk here) debate on the merits and legality of nation states taking violent, war-like action against other states, I submit that our constitution would be served best by at least trying to maintain an appearance of balance with regard to the Executive and Legislative branches when it comes to “declaring war”. Or in this case, utilizing American military resources to strike another country.
Here’s where it’s gone all wrong. Truman unilaterally launched our now famous “police action” in Korea, and ever since, the Executive branch has used that as a green light to launch all manner of military excursions.
There is a real honest and important policy consideration to be undertaken (as yet hopelessly mired in politics) regarding the use of American military forces in the interests of protecting the citizens of rogue states and merciless strongmen. Think Rwanda where our inaction facilitated the genocide there. Or the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia.
When is it appropriate for us to become the worlds policemen? Is it in the interest of our national security or simply a moral imperative?
Sadly, we are unlikely to have this debate. As surely as we are unlikely to systematically parse the actual legality of the action the Executive branch appears to be headed towards.
Why? Because our system of government is broken. The powers of the Executive branch have exceeded their intended boundaries as critically as our failed attempts at election reform have filled our Congress with short-sighted, career politicians with no understanding or the word compromise.
A poll released today states that a majority of Americans want Congressional approval before any military action is taken. In a perfect, “Constitutional” world, I support that sentiment.
But let me repeat: our system is broken and the only result of attempting to get Congressional approval would be another vote along party lines. No actual compromise or representative government would be seen within miles of the beltway. It would be another facade.
Do I think military action in Syria is the right move? Yes…but I simply despise the way we got here.
We are paying the price for decades of political instant gratification that began with Truman and masterfully exploited during the era of the “Great Communicator” himself.
We have only ourselves to blame…