Syria

Unlike Congress, the British House of Commons is Debating Intervention in Syria

|

Credit: UK Parliament/flickr

The British House of Commons, which was recalled from its recess, is currently debating military intervention in Syria.

The British government said today that it was "highly likely" that the Assad regime was responsible for a chemical attack near Damascus last week and that a military intervention could take place without the backing of the United Nations, a position similar to the one expressed by the Obama administration yesterday.

In today's debate in the House of Commons Prime Minister made it clear that there was "no 100 percent certainty about who is responsible." Yesterday I wrote about an article posted on Foreign Policy's "The Cable" blog, which mentions that the U.S. is confident that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack near Damascus last week because of intercepted phone calls between an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and the commander of a chemical weapons unit made shortly after the attack.

In today's debate in the House of Commons there is unfortunately a worrying level of support, as well as some hesitancy, regarding some sort of intervention in Syria. However, despite some of the worrying opinions expressed, it is nice to see the issue being debated.

On this side of the Atlantic there is little indication that Obama will ask Congress to authorize a military intervention. Obama's lack of communication or consultation with Congress on the situation in Syria has upset some members of Congress.

Yesterday Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that it is Congress, not the president, that declares war and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) wrote a letter to Obama asking 14 questions about possible military intervention in Syria. In what is perhaps the most notable expression Congress' frustration with Obama over a possible military intervention in Syria 116 Congressman (98 Republicans, 18 Democrats) signed a letter asking the president to "consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria." Read Reason's Jacob Sullum's take on the letter here.

It was recently reported that a fifth American warship is being sent to the Mediterranean, the latest sign that some sort of military intervention in Syria will soon begin. If a U.S. military intervention in Syria does take place it unfortunately looks unlikely that American legislators will of had a say in the matter.  

NEXT: Omaha Cop Pleads Guilty to Peddling Info From Police Database

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The difference is, the House of Commons can unseat the Prime Minister with a single vote.

    Congress would have to putz around with the impeachment drivel, which is a lot of work, you know? So they won’t bother.

    1. With the British Parliament and Cabinet, it’s hard to tell which is the tail and which is the dog, they’re so closely linked.

    2. Yeah, good point.

      The US system with a greater separation of powers might work better when the presidency (and the Fourth Estate) hasn’t devolved as far as it has, and I’m convinced it has devolved terribly. When Jimmy Carter is preferable, and he easily is, in my mind at least, things have really gotten bad.

      So the instant karma of the parliamentary system might be a better system. Then again, much of Europe has this system (a nominal president or monarch) and their leaders suck ass leaders often aren’t held accountable for much either.

    3. “The difference is, the House of Commons can unseat the Prime Minister with a single vote.”

      That sword cuts both ways. If they held an election and the conservatives lost, wouldn’t it be because the backbenchers weren’t reelected? Cameron’s got them by the cajones, too. He can call an election just about anytime he wants.

      Think of it this way…

      If we were in a parliamentary democracy, like that, and John Boenher were the Prime Minister of the United States, the Tea Party would have been a non-factor, and Rand Paul would be running to keep his seat in Massachusetts.

      1. In a parliamentary system Rand (and Ron) would have been kicked out of the GOP for not towing the party lion. They would have been forced to run as Independents. Fat chance at that.

    4. The difference is, the House of Commons can unseat the Prime Minister with a single vote.

      You are unaware that Party discipline is much stronger in the UK. A backbencher is pretty powerless to topple to the government.

  2. You know what would make the farce even funnier?

    If Obama cited the British Parliament vote as his justification. If I had infiltrated the White House email system, that is just the groupthink ‘consensus’ I’d try to manufacture by sending a few judicious forged emails.

  3. Given that the UK, France, and Germany all seem so eager to get involved here, why do we have to get involved? Let them do the work.

    1. They talk big but they don’t have the capacity to do much. Even against Libya they needed US help.

      1. Besides, how is America’s warboner ever going to get satiated if we let those other guys do all the fuckin’?

    2. Andrew S.| 8.29.13 @ 12:37PM |#
      “Given that the UK, France, and Germany all seem so eager to get involved here, why do we have to get involved? Let them do the work.”

      None of them can get there without hitching a ride on US aircraft.

      1. Look! There’s a daily Lufthansa Frankfurt to Amman flight. Then it’s just a short bus ride north and you’re in the fray.
        http://www.lufthansa.com/onlin…..s/homepage

    3. You know who else wanted Germany to get involved?

      1. David Hasselhoff?

  4. I so wish we had Question Time with the President and Congress like the British do with Parliament and the Prime Minister.

    1. If only we can punish them (with electrical shocks or something) for lies or evasions.

      1. That would be awesome.

        “Perhaps this ***ZZZT!*** will refresh your memory.”

      2. Would the Right, Honorable, Gentleman from NY yield for a taser?

  5. I’m sure that MLK, if he were alive today, would tell Obama to go for it. That whole “non-violence” thing was just marketing and PR.

      1. As I found researching my new book, Gunfight, in 1956, after King’s house was bombed, King applied for a concealed carry permit in Alabama. The local police had discretion to determine who was a suitable person to carry firearms. King, a clergyman whose life was threatened daily, surely met the requirements of the law, but he was rejected nevertheless. At the time, the police used any wiggle room in the law to discriminate against African Americans. …

        Eventually, King gave up any hope of armed self-defense and embraced nonviolence more completely. Others in the civil rights movement, however, embraced the gun.

        1. But remember, if you oppose gun control, you hate black people

          1. I thought if you opposed gun control you hated the children?

        2. One thing Robert Williams, a civil rights leader in North Carolina, did right was found an NRA chapter. This helped fend off the Klan.

          (The thing Williams did wrong was be a Commie sympathizer, but that’s another story)

          1. Hey, Communists need self-protection, too.

        3. The Deacons for Defense and Justice were willing to defend themselves with arms if necessary.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deacons_for_Defense

        4. Gun control is a progressive boner. Anyone who has actually had to worry about their lives wants guns, at least for them.

      2. Huh, I did not know that.

        My admiration for the man grows.

        Anyway, “pacifism” and “self defense” are not mutually exclusive. Many pacifists believe in the right to self defense.

      3. I just want to point out that I have deep respect for MLK regardless of his many character faults.

        I’m just in a pissy mood about anything regarding Obama. I have made a willful attempt to avoid learning anything he said or did yesterday, because I am afraid I would come unglued.

  6. Syrian rebels ‘used sarin gas’, says UN’s del Ponte

    Cruise-missile ’em all. Let Allah sort ’em out.

    /sarc

    1. The article referenced is dated 06/05/2013.

      It refers to earlier gas attacks.

      It does raise a question: Why wasn’t this reported in MSM when UN’s del Ponte first make this statement?

  7. Perhaps the Joint Chiefs should send the president a letter reminding him that they can only follow his constitutional orders.

    1. The ranks of the high command have been purged of anyone who might think along those lines.

      1. How about the Oath Keepers on the destroyers?

        1. I guess we’ll find out.

      2. WTF – you could have ended your sentence at “think”.

        1. lolz – correction accepted.

    2. It would be fascinating if Obama orders strikes against Syria without orders from congress if some captain refused to give the order to fire because of that.

      1. The real reason for why Last Resort was cancelled, suddenly became clear to me.

        1. Aside from simply being TOO AWESOME.

          It was very complicated though, and my wife and I had to pause episodes pretty frequently to consult with each other on who was who and why they were doing what exactly.

          It doesn’t help that I can’t remember faces, so the initial episodes of TV series are very confusing to me before I learn characters’ gait, mannerisms, etc.

        2. It got canceled because it was good, had potential, and was on ABC, which…what does ABC have that’s any good again?

          1. ESPN… with the sound off.

  8. Uh. Just remind me why you guys declared independence 237 years back.

    Wasn’t there something about lack of representation?

    And there was this bit:


    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    1. Hey, you’re right! To the Fuck That Cave, Robin!

      1. Wait, we have a cave for that?

        1. Yes, indeed, Boy Plunder.

          1. Holy kinetic action!

            1. The way we get into these scrapes and get out of them, it’s almost as though someone was dreaming up these situations; guiding our destiny.

    2. We realize the Founders are spinning in their graves so fast they could power NYC for a decade.

      1. Well, according to official Air Force equal opportunity training documents, the Founders were extremists.

        Check out page 43:
        http://www.judicialwatch.org/w…..1-docs.pdf

        1. I’d argue that they were.

          There’s just nothing wrong with extremism if you happen to be right.

          1. You and the USAF are going to have to disagree.

          2. “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” — Barry Goldwater

  9. Obama can do whatever he wants. As long as the Free Shit keeps flowing, the Free Shit Brigade doesn’t care.

    1. So why isn’t Congress reconvening themselves? Vacation more important?

  10. In my dreams, the military leaders would tell Obama to fuck off until he got authorization from Congress. But I guess no one takes their oaths to defend the Constitution seriously these days

  11. Unlike Congress, I’ll bet the debate is a helluva lot more fun to watch.

    1. Hey, what do you think our fearless leader is doing this very minute?

      1. Stomping around, screaming at underlings, pissed as hell at how much this Syria thing is going to cut into his golf time.

        1. Nope – he’s on the course. He doesn’t really care about this shit.

  12. In what is perhaps the most notable expression Congress’ frustration with Obama over a possible military intervention in Syria 116 Congressman (98 Republicans, 18 Democrats) signed a letter asking the president to “consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.”

    Asked? ASKED?

    Can the massive and wretched pussification of Congress even be slowed?

    1. Slowed? Don’t you mean reversed?

    2. They seem to have missed the part where they are the ones who issue the orders for military action and the president is the executive who carries out those orders.

      1. It’s the part about avoiding the blame for anything that goes wrong that they are most concerned with.

  13. Most Congressperson like being relieved of the responsibility to declare war. They can be cheerleaders if the war goes well, and criticize the Pres if the war goes badly. If they commit themselves one way or another with a vote ahead of time, they either own the war (if war is declared) along with all the war’s bad things, or they get called traitors for not supporting the C-in-C.

    Better to just wait and see how the war plays out, then join the bandwagon for the pro- or anti- war side depending of the polls.

  14. will have had

  15. Striking Syria will likely be illegal?and it won’t matter

    If the Obama administration attacks Syria in retaliation for dictator Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, it will likely do so without authorization from Congress.

    That’s probably illegal. And it also probably won’t matter.

    But this is the best bit:

    In an interview with PBS’ Newshour Wednesday, Obama tried to make the case that the use of chemical weapons creates a national interest for intervention. The Assad regime’s past alliances with terrorist organizations means that “there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us,” Obama told PBS.

    Do my eyes deceive, or is that Obama making the neocon case for the Iraq invasion, and applying it to Syria? Why yes, I believe it is. Amazing, huh?

    1. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

      1. Ever since I started taking crazy pills, yes.

        1. I remember when you started those crazy pills.

          You started saying a shitty president like Obama didn’t have a chance in hell of getting reelected.

          Also, you started banging Epi’s mom way more often.

          1. I’m still stunned that the electorate reelected a dumbass like him with a bad economy to boot. We’re dumber than even I thought.

            1. Mitt Romney.

              1. Good point, but still…

                1. Millions of voters that likely would have voted against Obama stayed home, even in the midst of this terrible economy, all because Mitt Romney was the alternative.

                  It is a bit fitting since Romney’s chief sin in my opinion was trying to be all things to all people, and he wound up being nothing to most.

                  1. That’s not incompatible with Pro Lib’s “dumber than I thought.”

                    1. Yes, part of our dumbness was nominating Romney.

    2. Overlooking, of course, that there was congressional authorization for that particular clusterfuck.

    3. The Assad regime’s past alliances with terrorist organizations means that “there is a prospect, a possibility, in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us,” Obama told PBS.

      If “past alliances with terrorist organizations” justifies a missile strike, then I suggest a Tomahawk strike on Peter King.

        1. All in favor say “aye.”

    4. Time to form a Coalition of the Willing.

    5. Iraq invasion

      Don’t you know there’s a difference between an Invasion and a Surgical Strike? Remember, this time, it’s different.

      1. Well, as a matter of fact there is a huge difference between the two.

        That fact does not make either legal or illegal by itself of course, but there is a big difference.

  16. So, if the Limeys do it, it’s a good idea?

    COSMOTARIUNZ!

    1. FEEEEEEEEeeeeeneeey!!!!

  17. They seem to have missed the part where they are the ones who issue the orders for military action and the president is the executive who carries out those orders.

    Yeah, sure.

    Next you’ll tell me they all should enter the election process with a deep and explicit understanding of the true powers and duties of Congressional office.

  18. I’m still stunned that the electorate reelected a dumbass like him with a bad economy to boot. We’re dumber than even I thought.

    “All of us are dumber than any of us.”

    It’s like a black hole of dumb.

  19. asking the president to “consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.”It should be ordering the president to receive authorization from Congress. I know, I know. In my dreams.

  20. I’m sure Boehner is trying to get this on Congress’ to-do list, but what with important stuff like the Great Miley Cyrus Panic and a national high school football playoff system to ponder, it’s just tough to find the time.

  21. “will of had” – WTF?!?!

  22. Shame on anyone who is against intervention! ? YOU are appalling! Go then and live in Syria for a week and bring your kids with you! Have your skin burned off and your children’s body parts be blown to smithereens in front of you and if you survive come back and debate this issue again! We the civilized world stands by to do nothing, nothing, nothing but talk and political posturing while people die. That makes all of us as barbaric as Assad! What did the Syrian people do to deserve this ? have the fate to be born in the wrong country ? that could just as well have been your fate or mine!This has gone on now for 2 1/2 years.

    This has nothing in the even remotest way to do with Iraq, is nothing like the Iraq pretenses at all and any person with knowledge and intelligence and that has read news, watched news or listened to news in the last 12 years should know that or has no right to express any opinion at all because that would make such a speaker oblivious and grossly uninformed and ignorant!

    Let me know if you survive your trip to Syria!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.