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Neither the United Nations nor Congress ever said anything about an enforcement mechanism in which a U.S. president, based on his own erratic whim, decides to pull the trigger. So will he now?
In a sharp and sudden reversal that surprised his own national security team (again!), the president decided on August 30 to seek congressional authorization for bombing Syria after all, though he repeatedly asserted his authority to act without it. At press time, a libertarian/progressive coalition in Congress, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), looked poised to reject the authorization, over the wishes of leadership from both parties and much of the Washington establishment. How the president will act in the face of rejection is anybody's guess.
In 1971, an eloquent young critic appeared on William F. Buckley's TV show Firing Line to critique U.S. foreign policy. "Interventionism, as well as globalism, both stem from the same kind of moralism," he said. "And in a certain sense I think that moralism can be very defeating for the United States and its undertakings. It gets us into a sort of messianic enterprise."
That man's name was John Kerry. He was right then. He's wrong now.