Why did President Obama seek Congressional authorization?
I'm still trying to figure out an answer:
Why did President Obama seek Congressional authorization for U.S. military intervention against Syria?
If he loses that Congressional vote (and current indications suggest the President faces an uphill struggle, particularly in the House), doesn't that only further weaken this President, both domestically and abroad?
If he loses that vote, but proceeds nonetheless, doesn't he suffer immeasurably when things go wrong (which they probably will)?
Will Bashar al Assad not gain encouragement to use chemical weapons FURTHER if (a). President Obama loses a Congressional vote, and follows David Cameron's example or (b). President Obama wins, but delivers but a "pinprick" of an attack? (But see story below. Case can be made that Assad was "framed" by the Saudis.)
But perhaps President Obama feels compelled to take the gamble just as he took a great risk in acting on information about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.
Or perhaps, at some subliminal level, this President now ruefully concedes (to himself) that it was a mistake to draw a "red line". If Congress turns him down, can't he put the onus on Congress if further chemical weapons attacks materialize?
Predictably, Delaware's Congressional delegation voices support for such intervention, with U.S. Representative John Carney equivocating some. Do you think Delawareans will EVER elect someone more inclined to question U.S. military interventions?
Meanwhile, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) - who arguably never confronted a war or crisis in which he didn't want the United States to intervene - declared on CBS's "Face the Nation" - President Bashar al-Assad would be "euphoric" about President Obama's decision to wait for Congress.
By the way, remember "Freedom Fries" instead of French fries? Who would've predicted France would prove to be the Obama Administration's greatest ally at this time? But what happens if Congress follows the heels of British Parliamentarians in voting against intervention?
That chemical weapons were used now appears to be nearly irrefutable. But I still think reasonable doubt exists as to how and by WHOM. A case can still be made that some parties "framed" the Assad government.
Consider this news account: EXCLUSIVE: Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.
(One of the authors is Dale Gavlak -- a well-respected journalist who's long covered the Middle-East...)
Obviously, the Russian Federation - and the Soviet Union before it - has long valued its relationship with the Ba'athist military in Damascus. That said, wasn't Russia's President Vladimir Putin spouting some common sense over the weekend when he cautioned President Obama to consider the inevitable civilian casualties, and to consider how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq didn't exactly achieve their stated objectives? (Of course, we must acknowledge Putin demonstrated little restraint in prosecuting the war against the Chechens!)
Dale Gavlak, who was listed as one of the two authors of the above threaded story, now says she didn't do the reporting on that story, and her name was used without her pemission!
True? Or was she pressured?
Conversely, now Secretary of State John Kerry insists 1,429 people died in the chemical weapons attack on August 21st. How can he prove such a precise figure? Several activists note the absence of any refrigerated morgues in the area, so "all the bodies were buried within 24 hours." Did someone disinter the bodies? And how to prove from where rockets (with presumed chemical weapons) were actually fired?
And when Secretary of State Kerry describes "communications intercepts", can he prove beyond a reasonable doubt that another country's intelligence agency (The Turks, the Saudis, the Qataris, and/or the Israelis) didn't plant it?
Of course, it's perfectly plausible that the Syrian regime itself DID launch the chemical attack, or at least Assad's brother, Maher, seeking revenge for the failed rebel assassination attempt on Bashar Assad at the conclusion of Ramadan - widely reported in the Arab press - but never independently corroborated.
Ex-Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reportedly told the Iranian website ILNA that Assad's forces DID, in fact, use chemical weapons. Someone later removed the story.
Whatever the truth of ANY of the above, the open questions remains whether any U.S. intervention will only make things in Syria WORSE... instead of better!
Posted at 11:03am on September 2, 2013 by Allan Loudell
Check your supermarket's baked goods section for Thomas' Freedom Muffins. Maybe the Tea Party will have to become the Wine Party.
Obama, in making his statement, claimed he still has the authority to order the strike - despite the Constitution and the War Powers Act. And this guy used to teach constitutional law! Apparently, an affirmative action faculty appointment. Maybe US News should downgrade University of Chicago's law school ranking.
If Obama weren't such a terrible poker player, it might seem he wanted to call the bluff of those in congress demanding to be "consulted." Instead, congress is placed in the position of having to go on record and vote.
If Obama acts without congressional approval, he should be impeached. The Senate probably would not remove him but he would have to go through a trial. They should impeach Biden and Kerry, at the same time, for good measure.
Kerry keeps saying the US has proof - we don't need no stickin' UN report. But the US' claims of other people's weapons no longer have credibility.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013 12:56pm
The US has a history of sticking its nose in other people's business and making things worse - for decades to come. Here's how the CIA caused the situation in Iran.
Declassified Documents Reveal CIA Role In 1953 Iranian Coup
The Central Intelligence Agency was behind the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. It's been an open secret for decades, but last week, The George Washington University's National Security Archive released newly declassified proving it.
Orchestrating the Iranian coup d'état was a first for the CIA and would serve as the template for future Cold War covert operations worldwide.
In 1951 Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh tried to end British domination of Iran. Mossadegh nationalized Iranian oil which had been monopolized by a single British company, BP, for more than forty years. Mossadegh had to fight against a virtual alliance of foreign and domestic enemies. They undermined him in a struggle for power and control of oil. A struggle which culminated in a coup d’etat plotted and carried out by the CIA in August 1953.
More than five decades later it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding Mossadegh’s victories and failures. Through exclusive access to eye-witnesses and the characters of the story in Iran, UK and the US as well as never before seen archival material Maziar Bahari tells the gripping story of the rise and fall of Mossadegh.
An Iranian Odyssey demystifies the current perception of Iran as an irrational and erratic pariah state. The film is not only a historical documentary. It is a relevant modern story that clearly tells the reasons behind the current stand-off between Iran and the West.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, Sep 2, 2013 1:09pm
It seems like these folks in DC want an excuse to go to war. Allan wrote: "That chemical weapons were used now appears to be nearly irrefutable. But I still think reasonable doubt exists as to how and by WHOM. A case can still be made that some parties "framed" the Assad government."
This the issue. We still don't know the answers; it's still speculation. We've 'been there done that' in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American people should be shown real proof, just as Congress should be shown real proof.
I'm still of the mind that since the Russians have a military base inside of Syria [sort of defines Syria as their turf], let them handle it. Gee, the last thing the U.S. needs is to mistakenly bomb a Russian military base or their soldiers, etc.
Congress should speak out loudly and clearly, HELL NO, you will NOT bomb or send troops into Syria. We, the Congress and apparently a majority of the American people - on both sides of the aisle - agree with the British Parliament.
It ought to scare the U.S. that France is actually in agreement with us on something. Hey, let the French do the bombing and sent their troops into Syria, if they think this is such a great idea.
We, the United States, need to stay out of this.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013 3:19pm
What I find amazing is that this time around liberals are FOR bombing and conservatives are AGAINST. Now just to be fair, I include myself in the mix as I have in the past been on the side of intervention, but this time around I'm as war-weary as the rest of the country. Another reason is the total ineptitude of the Obama administration as demonstrated by Benghazi and other recent fiascos.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013 5:56pm
Besides, Pizza likes dictators. Belorussia has one of the worst and we don't hear much about him. If this goes on, maybe someday the US will launch missiles into Minsky-Pinsk.
Meanwhile, Syria has been moving troops, missiles and armaments away from military installations and to schools and hospitals. Fortunately, we have the CBC to tell us what's really going on. So, when Obama finally starts shooting, nobody will be there. Will Obama decide to shoot at schools and hospitals instead? Everybody will love him for that.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013 7:19pm
Hey everybody, now you know you can't take ole Bill too seriously. He just needs to ramble on and get it all out his system.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:30am
Allan's diatribe at the top of this column very well answers his prime question: Why did Obama defer to Congress?
The reason is going into Syria is the wrong thing to do. Allan laid out all the reasons above.
This way, just as Cameron did, he can say his hands are tied, and everyone will forget about the red line, and life will go on, and Republicans will lose both the House and Senate next election. In fact, Obama will be considered a major peace hero by the world community, because he did not go to war last Friday. He may win another Nobel Peace Prize.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:42am
Mike is rather accurate in his statement that the folks in DC want to go to war... He's right on the money. The Beltway is dominated by war lobbyists, if not in number, at least in influence. Think-tanks, publicity outfits, and national media centered there really drive conversation completely off-base from what regular Americans think.
As an example: I was told that Mike Castle was respected because he always did what his handlers wanted, and never stepped out-of-line. Based on that definition, "he's one of the good ones", a lobbyist group told me.
Rand Paul is the only one capable of changing the environment there, I'm afraid.
Anyway, that consortium within the Beltway is pushing war. In their minds it is inevitable, and the sooner it takes place, the better life will be for all but the Syrians under the bombs...
And it is not so much that the politicians themselves are bad people, it is just that in that environment, they have to be bad in order to survive... It is very similar to the 18th Century descriptions of both King George's court, and Louis XVI's court in France.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 7:58am
Castle: In Michael Moore's classic documentary "Fahrenheit 911" Castle is one of the Congressional members shown running like little girls when Moore tries to ask them on camera why their kids are not serving in the armed forces. Moore pointed out that at the height of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, almost no political brats were in the military. But Congress and the executive branch were big on sending other people's kids off to die.
Nothing new there. During Viet Nam, political brats got deferments or nice cushy but hard-to-get spots in the National Guard, which back then was never deployed overseas. Like Dubya, who used Viet Nam to get free flying lessons at government expense and then didn't bother to go to meetings.
And notice that the lap dog Delaware media - including Loudell - never bothered to corner Castle or anybody else and follow up on Moore's question. Of course, they were also busy promoting Bush's war and their kids didn't serve either (did they?).
Of course politicians are bad people. They sold out long before they got to Washington (or they don't get to Washington). Look at Biden and the Delaware banking and lending industry. It's been reported elsewhere but again the Delaware media don't want to touch it. Biden is Delaware's number-two sacred cow, after the DuPonts.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 9:41am
To Bill Smith:
(1). Mike Castle has no kids. I agree with you, though, that the Beltway is full of folks with no personal stake (as in family) in America's wars. Notable exception: Beau Biden's repeated deployments to Afghanistan.
(2). As my blog output and on-air interviews underscore, I am certainly no cheerleader for U.S. military interventions. To the contrary, they seldom achieve their ends, and always bleed both lives and treasure. I've noted in the past even the Panamanian intervention - thought by most Americans to have been "successful" because it resulted in the ouster of Manuel Noriega - nonetheless cost 23 U.S. military lives and anywhere from 500 to one thousand Panamanian lives. Human Rights Watch found the proportion of innocent civilian casualties troubling. Yet the drug-smuggling and corruption persist in Panama. No 'Mission Accomplished' ultimately, even in Panama.
Syria, of course, is far more dangerous because of the risk of escalation.
(3). Since you don't actually listen to this station (by your own admission) you wouldn't know this, but Delaware politicians at the receiving end of my interviews often don't appreciate my questions, whether about military intervention or about coddling the financial sector. Senator Chris Coons got a bit prickly yesterday when I kept questioning him about the reliability of intelligence...
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 10:06am
Allan Loudell: As you have said, you are not currently in a management position. When you were, you were responsible for one-sided - support the troops - cheer leading coverage. No questioning of the Patriot Act (critics were dismissed). No coverage of any anti-war activities or organizations. No doubts raised about WMD lies. Stories dictated by military "public information" offices.
If you have come to be a born-again Dove, or at least a skeptic, I commend you for that.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 10:18am
You were at that previous station a short time; I don't think you can seriously assess my record over the years.
Truth be told, I didn't assign day-to-day local stories. But I remember coverage of Pacem-in-Terris and other Delaware peace groups. (Same for anti-death penalty protesters.)
I certainly interviewed a disproportionate number of people who questioned U.S. military interventions, both on moral and practical grounds, even during the build-up to the first Gulf War, long before you were on the scene.
One of the reasons I've been unable to vote in national races for some 30 years is because of my distress over U.S. military interventions. Even if one is not an absolute pacifist, hardly any U.S. interventions even fulfill traditional Christian "Just War" criteria.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 1:41pm
Allan Loudell: You deliberately violated Section 315 of the Federal Communications Act.
You also violated a fundamental principle of journalism ethics by accepting a junket from the military supposedly to cover local troops in Iraq. You broadcast interviews with local troops without informing the audience that military officers were present and controlled those interviews.
And you frequently and routinely intervened in story assignments. In any case, you were in charge and cannot claim not to be responsible when you chose not to act.
I was there long enough to be ashamed of the news product and to hear your social conservative harangues.
For you to claim your not voting is an example of your objectivity and then say you don't vote because of your disapproval of US policies more than 40 years ago makes absolutely no sense.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 2:52pm
It is indeed awkward to discuss my former station on this blog, in part, because this leads us astray from any discussion about current topics. Furthermore, I doubt if any station would typically allow discussion of previous (competing) stations on a blog.
I suspect the constant rants back-and-forth over radio and religion turn-away other people who might comment on this blog on topics DIRECTLY RELATED to the original subject.
You have raised these points repeatedly - under several names - on several blogs over the years. I've been at WDEL eight years, and you left WILM several years before that. You seem to be obsessed.
It has gotten quite tiresome.
Frankly, others who have seen this blog consider this thread-jacking, and have urged me to either begin deleting irrelevant portions or require registration through Facebook, just like for commenters on our news stories, or commenters on ALL material downstate, whether stories or blogs. I have resisted.
A final response from me and then I'm done with regard to this:
Your complaint about 315 of the Communications Act relates to my previous station picking up the President's Saturday morning radio address and NOT the opposition response. That's because - at the time - this occurred when we took the live feed of the President, and the opposition response came during the nationally syndicated talk show we were then taking. It happened during both the first President Bush and President Clinton. No different treatment.
(Maybe if we had had reliable automatic recording, we might have done both in delay, but, as you know, all the equipment at 1215 French Street was very antiquated.)
In my defense, when I organized live radio debates in Delaware, I went out of the way to get candidates of ALL political parties involved. Sometimes people complained that including sometimes, four or five candidates ruined the flow between the two or three "major candidates". As a former high school debater, I had to concede their point, but I still thought, under Section 315, it was important to reflect greater ideological diversity.
I broke with the League of Women Voters over this issue (even though under the news exception to 315 Equal Time, the station could have defended its position). I resigned from a Channel 12 WHYY advisory board over this very same issue: I thought WHYY's criteria for inclusion of candidates were overly restrictive and essentially kept out all minor party candidates!
Yes, WILM at the time accepted an opportunity to send a reporter to southwest Asia to cover local troops in Iraq. The military provided the transport. My bosses at the time thought it was a great opportunity and had no qualms about the arrangement. I did. Still, it was a chance for listeners to hear folks from home far away.
The extent to which military officers were present and controlled interviews, I don't honestly know.
(By the way, I turned down "junkets" for a reporter or talk-show host to go to South Africa or Israel -- despite some pressure from "upstairs".)
I did not typically intervene in story assignments. I suggested stories beyond the scheduled stories that come onto every newsroom's daybook.
My political views traverse the spectrum, and I am not particularly comfortable in ANY political gathering. I am not a social conservative, as that issue is typically defined, except on one issue. I am a progressive on many issues, including on some issues you are not. And I don't recall having enough time - despite working 14-hour days - to "harangue". Much too tired. (I do, however, recall one incident in the newsroom in which I believe you were present. I believe you have extrapolated from it when reaching conclusions about my political/moral outlook. You don't like to be pigeonholed. Neither do I.)
I've never claimed not voting to demonstrate my objectivity. I realize some journalists don't, for matters of principle. I respect their position. I just don't share it.
We are still citizens, still part of the world. Our detachment ends at some point.
No, the reason I don't vote has to do with my overall philosophy, which - as I've said before - doesn't line up with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or any minor political party in the United States. (If I ever do a personal blog, I'll share that entire philosophy. Not here.)
When I first became eligible to vote (1976), I did so with enthusiasm, but gradually became more and more alienated from both the U.S. Right and the Left (and from the vanilla center as well, by the way).
By the way, I know you're also the one who kept changing the Wikipedia entry for that other station - referring to me as a "right-wing talk-show host". Ironic, considering my interactions with the progressive blog, Delaware Liberal. I would have many more defenders there than on the leading conservative blog, Delaware Politics.
That would also have come as a great surprise to my listeners in Memphis, where I did host a daily telephone-talk show at one station.
By the way, at every speaking engagement AFTER the decision to yank the plug on El Rushbo, I pointed to the escalating fees. I diverted from the station "line" - publicly - immediately after the news conference that announced we were pulling the plug. I disagreed with that decision from the beginning.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 4:46pm
Allan Loudell: Excuses, excuses. You excel at excuses.
Article 315 is not optional, to be followed only if convenient.
Now you say Rush was cancelled because of the price being charged for the show. That was not what you told various media outlets as you reaped publicity for being the first to cancel Rush. Then, and for some time after, you claimed the show had "peaked."
Sure you cancelled Rush. Then replaced him with the right-wing Gallagher. You refused on various occasions to consider scheduling a progressive host, on the grounds that you wanted to be a "news station." Somehow that allowed for conservatives like Gallagher and Watson, but not a progressive host like Arnie Arnesen or Al Franken.
You also called EWTN "too liberal."
The troops in those interviews were in combat zones and subject to the Universal Code of Military justice. Brass from the PIO were present. Nobody was going to say anything they weren't supposed to. And when the situation got heated, contrary to earlier military depictions, the series of interviews was terminated by the military (not the reporter) and she was hustled out. Before that, much of her "reporting" came straight from Air Force press releases.
You claim to be not comfortable in a political gathering yet your work emphasizes politics. You present yourself as a political junkie and a self-described "pundit" but you are not comfortable? It's like somebody on ESPN saying they aren't comfortable with sports.
Your excuses don't hold up.
And given your several hobby "obsessions," obsession is not a word you should toss around. Don't expect forgiveness without repentance.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013 5:02pm
You've had your say.
No further discussions of this type on this blog. I will delete in the future.
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