Obama about to Illegally Attack Syria?

TRUTHOUT – On Sunday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Eliot Engel – a Democrat who voted for the Iraq war – told Fox News that President Obama should strike Syria first and get Congressional approval afterwards.

That’s not how the US Constitution says it should go. That’s not how the War Powers Resolution (which, despite the name “resolution,” is binding US law) says it should go. The Constitution and the War Powers Resolution say that absent an attack on the United States, Congress must approve military action before it takes place. There is a common misconception about the War Powers Resolution that it allows the President to do whatever he or she wants for 60 days. This confuses one provision of the War Powers Resolution with the whole. In section 2c, the War Powers Resolution affirms that:
The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
There’s another common misconception that because presidents have claimed that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional, it can be ignored. First, the president doesn’t get to declare things unconstitutional on his or her own say-so – the president is entitled to his or her opinion, but that’s all it is, an opinion. Second, while the constitutionality of some provisions of the War Powers Resolution has been disputed, the constitutionality of section 2c has never been in serious dispute. If other parts of the War Powers Resolution were to fall to a constitutional challenge – which they haven’t – section 2c would still be good law.

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s sectarian civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Obama should intervene. Even if Assad’s forces used chemical weapons to attack civilians – at this point, an allegation which has not been proved and an allegation that has a track record of being made without being borne out – only 25 percent of Americans would support US intervention, while 46 percent would oppose it.

On July 24, the House approved an amendment by voice vote that would prohibit funding of any military action that violates the War Powers Resolution.

If President Obama can get us into war in Syria without prior Congressional approval, it will set a terrible precedent: A future president could get us more easily into war in Iran without prior Congressional approval.

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