By Matthew Rothschild on September 10, 2013

1. "I possess the authority to order military strikes."

No you don't, Mr. President. Only Congress has the authority to declare war, and ordering military strikes would be a clear act of war, thus violating the Constitution. It would also violate the War Powers Act, which says that the President can't engage in hostilities without a declaration of war or specific Congressional authorization unless there is "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." And Syria has done no such thing.

2. Syria's use of chemical weapons is "a danger to our security."

Note that four paragraphs later, he said it wasn't "a direct or imminent threat to our security." So what kind of a threat is it? Well, a rather tenuous one. "Other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield." Really? It is very unlikely that some dictator would do this because he would know that if he did, the U.S. would drop a nuke on his head. That was the warning that Saddam Hussein got from the U.S. in January of 1991, and he didn't use his chemical weapons even as the U.S. was destroying most of his army. If that threat was enough to stop Saddam, it's likely good enough to stop other dictators.

Obama also acknowledged that "the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military."

3. "If fighting spills beyond Syria's borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel."

Let's just look at Israel. Obama contradicted himself just a few minutes later when he said, "Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise, and our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America."

4. "It's true that some of Assad's opponents are extremists. But Al Qaeda will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed."

Only?

If U.S. missile strikes seriously degrade Assad's military, they would certainly help the extremists who are allied with Al Qaeda in Syria.

5. "For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world's a better place because we have borne them."

Was the U.S. an anchor of global security and an enforcer of international agreements when it overthrew the Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953, or the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954?

Is the world a better place because the U.S. helped overthrow Salvador Allende's democratically elected government in Chile almost exactly 40 years ago?

Is the world a better place because the United States killed 3 million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and because we dropped 20 million gallons of napalm (waging our own version of chemical warfare) on those countries?

Is the world a better place because the United States supported brutal governments in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, which killed tens of thousands of their own people?

Is the world a better place because George Bush waged an illegal war against Iraq and killed between 100,000 and a million civilians?

And what international agreements was the United States enforcing when it tortured people after 9/11?

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Why Bernie Sanders Opposes U.S. Strike on Syria.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

Section: 

Topics: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

Malala Yousafzai meets with the Obamas. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

When Yousafzai left the White House, she was whisked away to speak at the exclusive private school that the...

Mauldin cartoon from the Chicago Sun-Times depicts Fidel Castro musing to a portrait of Karl Marx, "I'll bet you never had to deal with Cubans."

From our 1963 archive, this piece explores the tension between the United States and Cuba after the Bay of Pigs...

Chris Christie excoriates a teacher in front of a crowd.

It’s become difficult for Christie to continue to blame his failures on teachers and their unions; and yet, like a...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter