Congress May Not Pass Authorization For Strike Against Syria, Obama Believes He Can Intervene Anyway


Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/wikimedia

Last Saturday, President Obama said that he would seek Congressional approval for a military strike on Syria. Since then, around 100 members of Congress have returned to Washington D.C. from recess for a classified intelligence briefing on the situation in Syria. According to the Los Angeles Times not many of the members of Congress who were briefed are supportive of a military intervention in Syria, despite the fact that it is looking increasingly likely that the Assad regime was behind the suspected chemical attack on Aug. 21 near Damascus. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said Assad is "euphoric" that Obama has asked Congress to vote on military intervention in Syria, a vote which the Los Angeles Times reports Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) believes could fail in the House of Representatives if the Obama administration doesn't make "a whale of a case." Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey are all expected to make the case for intervention in Syria to Congress later today.

It is possible that Congress will come to a similar conclusion that the British House of Commons came to last week; that it would be unwise to conduct some sort of military intervention in Syria. Obama said earlier today that he is confident that Congress will pass the authorization of the use of force in Syria. Given that the British and American lawmakers have either had a vote or are expected to have one soon on military action in Syria it is perhaps unsurprising that French President Francois Hollande, an advocate of intervention in Syria, is coming under pressure to put a similar vote to French lawmakers. The French constitution only requires that Hollande seek lawmakers' approval for military interventions that last longer than four months.

While there is a lot of attention being given to the upcoming vote in Congress it is important to remember that Obama believes that he would still have the authority to carry out a military intervention in Syria despite what the people's representatives think. As the Cato Institute's Gene Healy has pointed out, ignoring votes against authorization for foreign military interventions has recent precedent. In 1999, Bill Clinton ignored two votes (one against declaring war, the other against continued airstrikes against Serbia) relating to intervention in the former Yugoslavia.

Recent polling indicates that intervention in Syria is unpopular among Americans. Even a limited strike in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria is supported by only 50 percent of Americans

If Congress does vote to authorize intervention in Syria then Obama will be able to order a military strike without looking like a hypocrite. However, if Congress does not vote to authorize military intervention in Syria then Obama's credibility will be hurt thanks in large part due to last year's "red line" comment. It is therefore unsurprising that, as Reason's Peter Suderman has highlighted, that Obama is personally lobbying for Congress to authorize intervention in Syria.

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  1. It’s constitutional. Article II, section 1, the FYTW clause.

  2. How can you even read that thing. The writing’s all faded.

    1. And what do 18th century slaveholders know about 21st century terrorism, anyway? They don’t care if it’s a suicide pact; they’re already dead. If they had shown a little more foresight they would have left some way for future generations to modify the Constitution, instead of locking us under archaic laws forever anyway.

    2. The dead white dude that wrote it said himself that it was just a “parchment barrier” to tyranny. Even if you could read it, it’s written in old English that nobody understands any more. And, anyway, we have a living Constitution now, and made the old written Constitution a dead letter.

      1. No less an authority than the esteemed Ezra Klein has explained that the Constitution is not all that important because it was written over a hundred years ago!

    3. and the guys who wrote it talked like fags

    4. one of my favorite Calvin Coolidge bits (and yes, it’s about the Declaration, not the Constitution, but the words still ring true.)

      About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

  3. Apparently, Boehner and Cantor have both come out in favor of supporting Obama’s proposal. Good thing we have a two-party system in this country, eh?

    1. So it’s true. Obama has a War Boehner?

      1. It turned all orange and weepy!

        1. Cheetos and porn don’t mix.

          1. Rule 34. You’ll have to do your own searches though.

  4. Well, if Nancy Pelosi’s 5 year old grandson understands the need for war with Syria, then who are we to disagree?

    I’ll be right back. I’m going to ask my one year old cousin for his opinion on monetary policy.

    1. Study: According to the single one year old polled, the proper way to wean us off of quantitative easing is to play with a little truck. Story developing.

      1. Still better than anything Sideshow Ben has proposed.

      2. How much did this study cost? Was is sponsored by big oil?

    2. That…that has to be a misinterpretation, right? Even Pelosi isn’t that stupid, right?

      1. Correction: Pelosi’s grandson was initially against the war until Pelosi explained that we have to go to war.

        Pelosi manipulated a five year old and then used this as evidence for military intervention.

        1. We need to take off and nuke DC from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure that Pelosi’s lethal stupidity isn’t contagious.

          1. Nukes seem somehow not strong enough. Perhaps an antimatter rain?

            1. I think the only solution is to create a gravity well in the center of the sun to make it go supernova. That’ll make things kind of warm for the rest of, though. Can we stay at your place on Ceti Alpha 5 for a while, ProL? You know, where there is life, a fair chance?

              1. Sure, we’ve got some mobile homes left over from when Enterprise stranded us here. Do you want the Moby-Dick unit or The Count of Monte Cristo?

                1. I want the Botany Bay unit.

                  1. Well, okay, but it’s the one with the extra earwig thingees. Use at your own risk.

                    1. Oh, ProL, it was Warty! We picked him up on Ceti Alpha Five… He put…his horrible fanged penis…in our bodies…to control our minds. He made us…say lies…do things. He thought he controlled us, but he did not. NutraSweet was strong.

                    2. Whispered aside to McCoy: “Bones, better euthanize Chekov and the captain. No way they’ll recover their sanity after that.”

                  2. I think it’s funny that the Star Trek writers thought that vaulting people into deep space, imprisoned in faulty stasis units, was much more humane than simply killing them.

                    1. They weren’t that faulty–look how many survived until the 2200s.

                    2. Not accounting for ret-conning, but Khan and his people escaped in the Botany Bay. They put themselves in stasis.

                    3. Dumbasses. I’m laughing at the “superior intellect.”

                    4. When Picard found humans from the 20th century, he returned them to Earth. When Kirk found humans from the 20th century, he beamed them to a hostile planet.

                    5. Only a little hostile. It got hostiler.

                    6. You lie! On Ceti Alpha Five there was life. A fair chance…

                    7. I find it hard to respect Khan’s superior intellect when he was unable to deal with some slow moving, giant-but-not-that-giant earwigs. I mean, come on, dude.

                    8. Which confirms that Kirk is the superior captain.

                    9. Of course, that’s why I said it.

                      When Kirk doesn’t trust the Romulans, he fires at them. When Picard doesn’t trust the Romulans, he gets fired at.

                    10. Savage and undeveloped, but not hostile. Ceti Alpha V was a nice little place until VI exploded. Probably because Warty raped it.

                    11. To be fair, Picard’s humans didn’t try to kill everybody onboard the ship.

                    12. Yeah, well, Picard found a housewife, a country singer and a businessman. Kirk found the Boys from Brazil. Not quite the same thing.

                    13. And the Doctor fixed the country western singer’s liver so he could settle down t’farmin’ in Chester’s Mill and keep drinking until Hank Shrader’s psycho son finally shot him. I dunno. The Ceti Alpha system looks better all the time.

                    14. Ah. That always eluded me for some reason. Thanks.

                    15. That always eluded me for some reason.

                      I think naming the ship after a penal colony confused a lot of people on that point. It might have been a plot hole they left open deliberately.

                    16. It was a snarky name. Khan commented here until he left.

          2. Don’t forget San Francisco – this is the sort of thing that San Franciscans vote her into office for year after year after year.

      2. you underestimate the depth of her stupidity. If peak is ever reached, she will not be far from it.

        1. It ain’t stupidity, it’s maliciousness.

    3. So wait, am I understanding this correctly? Her grandson was against going to war, but she used her masterful rhetorical skills to convince him that we should, so therefore I should support going to war?

      1. I’m not sure if it can be “understood”. I think you have to be retarded to truly understand. Oh wait, so you can understand her.

      2. Yes. She convinced a five year old to agree with her on a political issue that he knows nothing about. Therefore we should go to war.

      3. ‘So wait, am I understanding this correctly? Her grandson was against going to war, but she used a cookie to…’

        Yep, and Boehner fell for it too.

      4. she used her masterful rhetorical skills to convince him that we should,

        “we should not go to war”

        “I will give you McDonald’s for lunch if you change your mind”

        “We should go to war.”

    4. Wow, the kid was actually asking how this affected US interests when he asked her if the Syrians were being killed in the United States.

      1. We should remove the age restrictions so that Pelosi’s grandson can unseat her in a primary.

        1. Imagine what this kid is going to think of her when he gets older. I hope someone points him to a video of her explaining this, oh, about the time he has to sign up for Selective Service.

    5. In this example, Pelosi is Obama and the 5-year old is the electorate of San Francisco.

    6. Oh yeah? My 4 year old doesn’t understand the need for war with Syria.

      Also not understanding the need for war with Syria: My cousin’s 4 year old daughter, who is surely hoping her daddy doesn’t get deployed yet again.

      1. who is surely hoping her daddy doesn’t get deployed yet again.

        This is the difference between your family and Pelosi’s: No one related to Nancy Pelosi will be put in danger by us attacking Syria.

  5. a classified intelligence briefing on the situation in Syria

    The Administration doesn’t trust “the American people” anymore; wouldn’t make its case publicly.

    1. This. If they want us to go to war, the evidence should be made public.

  6. Obama should already be under impeachment for taking US armed forces into hostilities in Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, etc., without Congressional authorization. What’s one more country, if Congress refuses to enforce the law?

    1. The AUMF after 9-11 gave the President the power to go after Al Quada wherever they were found. So none of those things are illegal. If Congress doesn’t like it, they should amend the AUMF. Since they haven’t, they would be wrong to impeach Obama over using the authority of the AUMF they passed.

      1. They are in Syria too, so I guess he is already approved. Does it matter if he is aiding Al Qaeda instead of fighting it?

        1. Was just going to point this out. It’s probably a long con by Obama though. Earn their trust by giving them all sorts of bad-ass rpg’s and stuff. Then when they’ve served our purposes, we squash them.

          1. Worked in Afghanistan.

      2. What does the AUMF have to say about helping Al Qaeda win a war? Because that’s about what we’re going to do in Syria.

      3. US kinetic military action in Libya did not go after Al Qaeda. It deposed an anti-al-Qaeda dictator, and bolstered al Qaeda in north Africa. It will bolster al Qaeda in Syria when Obama gets his war there as well.

        1. It’s a simple foreign policy really. It’s only one page. Hell, it’s only four little letters:


      4. Fighting on the same side as Al-Quaida counts as “going after them” ?

        1. Sure. You go in right after they do. It doesn’t say you have to be heading in opposite directions.

      5. We’re on the wrong side for that to apply in Syria. Or, for that matter, in Libya.

        I’ve got a major problem with that AUMF, anyway, because it seems to me to improperly cede Congress’ warmaking power to the president.

      6. Al Quaida in Libya? You mean other than the ones we helped out, right?

      7. Did the AUMF give the president the power to arm Al Quada too? That is what happened in Libya. The CIA trained the forces under several Mali warlords to fight Gaddafi, and when they left, they sided with Al Quada in Mali to overthrow that government as well.

  7. If Obama strikes he will prove once and for all he is a closet Muslim since the Syrian Christians are fighting for Assad.

  8. Everyone knows Congress will knuckle under and vote yes. Why are they even pretending they’ll put up this fight?

    1. It’s for show. It allows Democrats who have anti-war constituencies to express their ostensible dissatisfaction in a vote. That way the anti-war Democrats get to show off their bona fides, and deprive prospective Republican opponents of a very serious campaign issue in 2014.

      The President knows that there are enough Republican war-mongers to join the Democrat war-mongers to pass his resolution.

      It has the side benefits of shielding him from impeachment should the shit hit the fan and it distracts from all of the scandals that would be in the news without Syria.

      1. Anything that distracts from the NSA, the CIA, and the DEA spying on people is worth gold to him right now.

      2. Agree that it helps some Dems, but it’ll hurt others. Most Dems loooovvveee blaming wars on Republicans so it sucks for them to have to be on record as voting for one.

        1. *shrug*

          I don’t think it hurt the Dems who voted for war with Iraq that much. Well, except for having to be in Obama’s Cabinet instead of being President themselves.

    2. I don’t think it’s a fait accompli in the House.

      1. Of course it is.

      2. time to lay your bets. Anyone?

        I’ll say the resolution will pass, but by a thin margins. It will be theater – with the anti-war allowed an out.

        Or else I’m having flashbacks to the passage of Obamacare.

        1. (and I’ll add that I hope I’m wrong.)

        2. 5 bucks on the great masked, mic’d, dune buggy riding, one.

          1. You know he rules the waste, bitchezz.

  9. “Many of the members of Congress who were briefed are supportive of a military intervention in Syria, despite the fact that it is looking increasingly likely that the Assad regime was behind the suspected chemical attack on Aug. 21 near Damascus.”

    I don’t understand the use of the word “despite” in that context.

    Is there a typo in there somewhere?

    Although Feeney’s thinking is sometimes…um…unconventional.

  10. However, if Congress does not vote to authorize military intervention in Syria then Obama’s credibility will be hurt thanks in large part due to last year’s “red line” comment.

    Yeah, it’s his credibility that matters most. Fuck what the law & constitution say.

    1. And this is what I hear the talking heads getting all worried about, the credibility of the US and the Presidency. Rule of Men.

      1. To me, I’d value a person that said “Well, I know I said I’d go to war over chemical weapons, but my word is nothing compared to law.”

        Yeah, I know, it’ll never happen.

      2. You did see Bill Kristol say that the war should be authorized even if it’s a bad idea due to this very reason…

        Republicans should support some version of the authorization of force resolution. They should do so even if they think that the President’s policy will prove ineffective, do no good, waste money, or entail unforeseen risks; they should do so even if they think he has gotten the nation into this situation by blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naivet?; and they should so even if, and especially, if they have no confidence in his judgment.…..51563.html

        1. There’s a special place in hell for Kristol. He would have been a proud Stasi informant.

        2. “If we don’t let Obama get into this stupid, needless war, a future Republican President might not be able to enter us into his own stupid, needless war!”

        3. Damn, Kristol loves him some of that powercock.

        4. This reminds me of the Reason article last week where somebody argued that even if you think Obamacare is a big pile of harmful and unconstitutional shit, you should still vote to fund it … Because you know, credibility and pragmatism or something like that.

    2. Wait. Obama still has credibility?

      With whom? Other than the Obamatons, that is.

  11. “Many of the members of Congress who were briefed are supportive of a military intervention in Syria, despite the fact that it is looking increasingly likely that the Assad regime was behind the suspected chemical attack on Aug. 21 near Damascus.”

    I still want an answer: If 100,000 people have already been murdered, why would you use a chemical weapon and risk open war with the US/UN over a mere 100? That bit doesn’t add up.

    1. Because, as everyone knows, being killed by gas makes you super dead and destroys your eternal soul.

      1. which is why we need to bomb the children so they won’t be gassed instead.

    2. Because Obama said there was a red line. Can’t let the Piece Prize winner in Chief issue idle threats.

    3. I think that you actually know the answer to this. Whether you think it’s a good reason is a different matter, but CBRN has been off-limits for a long time now through a series of worldwide treaties. It isn’t difficult to understand.

  12. Also, where the fuck is my Peace Prize and million bucks? I haven’t killed anyone ever. I definitely deserve it way more than Obama.

  13. There’s still no support for this from the public, not even at HuffPo.

    It’s just the same elements as always supporting war, Democrats and Republicans in high politicial office, and the media.

    But it seems now that the public is more sick of war and against this, than ever. Will that actually make a difference? I don’t know.

    1. TARP was opposed by a majority of the public but was, nonetheless, passed on a bi-partisan basis. When the establishment types get together they’ll vote against a public majority ‘for the good of the country’.

      We need to hear from a non-interventionist bi-partisan group soon or this thing will pass.

  14. Allow me to initiate the universal Shrike call:

    At least George W. Bush (and his dad) was in the military and could actually fly a war plane. Obama’s war skills are only his uncanny ability to organize a community in order to get elected to office.

    You’re welcome everyone.

    1. also dubya was a cheerleader.

      1. Which, as we all know, is an athlete.

  15. However, if Congress does not vote to authorize military intervention in Syria then Obama’s credibility will be hurt thanks in large part due to last year’s “red line” comment.

    Obama has full on lied to the public so many times i am pretty sure he has already got all the haters he will ever get.

    And his supporters will never falter.

    One more lie will not make a difference.

    Just go down and read Suderman’s piece. Obama’s media dogs are already giving him cover. Calling him the reluctant warrior. Seriously the media are calling him Achilles…making him a hero if his big political push fails to get congressional support for a pointless war that only exists as an American foreign policy goal because of his own stupid ‘red line” statement.

    1. A reluctant wedding party crasher.

      A reluctant assassin.

      A reluctant war criminal.

      Will the Hague appreciate that?

    2. “calling him Achilles”

      Well, he certainly is a heel.

      1. Or do they mean he’s in a huff because Boehner wouldn’t give him some hot chick prisoner of war?

    3. If Obama is like Achilles, he’s more like Achilles from Ender’s Game…

      1. Achilles from Larry Niven’s latest Puppeteer novels.

        Let’s review: sociopathic warmonger? Check. Massive political ambition? Check. About the only thing he hasn’t demonstrated is a tendency to genocide (and shitting where he eats), but give him time.

        1. Isn’t “leading from behind” a puppeteer saying?

          1. Their leader is called the Hindmost, but for a herd herbivore that means being the closest to danger.

  16. Recent polling indicates that intervention in Syria is unpopular among Americans. Even a limited strike in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria is supported by only 50 percent of Americans…

    When was the last time that the U.S. went to war because there was a grass roots movement by the public demanding that the U.S. attack someone? War is almost always an act initiated by the state and it is always preceded by an emotion-based propaganda campaign to sell it to the public.

    So, even those 50% who feel the U.S. should attack are mostly just responding to the bullshit they’ve already been fed.

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