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Aug 31 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial Board: Absent on Syria

As President Obama moves toward unilateral military action in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed more than 1,400 people, he is doing so without legal justification and without the backing of two key institutions, Congress and the United Nations Security Council. Both have abdicated their roles in dealing with this crisis.

Secretary of State John Kerry said forcefully on Friday that there was no doubt that the government of President Bashar al-Assad was behind the attack. Both he and President Obama made a largely moral case for a retaliatory response. The administration also argued that failure to respond could lead Mr. Assad, his Hezbollah allies, Iran and North Korea to believe they can violate international norms with impunity. But no administration official has formally asserted a legal basis – absent a vote of Congress or the Security Council – for military strikes.

Charles M. Blow: War-Weariness

America may have lost its stomach for military intervention. [..]

The president is out on a most precarious limb on this issue. It is an unenviable position, where the right moral move could be the wrong political one, where the to-what-end question has a lack-of-clarity answer. Would a “limited” bombing campaign be the military equivalent of slap on the wrist? How would it guarantee an end to the atrocities?

These are the moments – when the support flags and emotions flare – that try the character and constitution of a leader, particularly a leader who rose to prominence as an antiwar candidate.

The president said Friday that “a lot of people think something should be done, but nobody wants to do it.” Does he want to? Or must he? And must we? Always?

Mark Weisbrot: President Obama Should Listen to US and UK Public: Don’t Strike Syria

Obama has less legitimacy and popular support for the proposed bombing than almost any US military action in recent history

President Obama’s proposed “humanitarian” bombing of Syria, which seemed like a done deal just a few days ago, is now running into serious trouble both at home and abroad. This is a great thing for those who care about human life, and increases the chances that Washington and its allies may eventually be forced to support a negotiated solution to Syria’s bloody civil war.

In a major blow to both Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama, the UK parliament voted on Thursday to reject a military attack on Syria, and Cameron pledged to respect their decision.

Now we can see why the Obama administration has been in such a hurry to lob cruise missiles at Syria, that it didn’t want to wait even a couple of days for the UN inspectors to do their job. No one had put forth any military or security reason for the rush to attack; no one claimed that speed was essential or even relevant to saving any lives. Rather, it now seems, the urge to shoot first and ask questions later was driven by the need to carry out this illegal attack before the public, and their representatives in national and international bodies, could weigh in.

Dennis Kucinich: Inhumane War in the Name of Humanity

Dear Friend,

Eleven years ago I warned America we were about to get into a war based on lies. I led 125 members of Congress to oppose the Iraq War resolution. When I raised questions then, some of our leading Senators, such as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards voted yes. The media was squarely behind the war. I was attacked for questioning the cause of war. Everything I said in October of 2002 as to why we should not go to war turned out to be 100 percent true. Many of those who were 100 percent wrong have continued in Congress or gone on to greater influence in government. And America? America lost 4,488 sons and daughters, with 32,021 wounded, at a cost which is approaching $6 trillion.

Today we are poised to engage in war against Syria with such a flimsy case being made to attempt to justify an attack, it could only be the product of cynicism and willful misrepresentation in the cause of war and a callous disregard for our true national interest.

Norman Solomon; While Cameron Defers to Parliament, Obama Locks Into Warfare State of Mind

The British Parliament’s rejection of an attack on Syria is a direct contrast — and implicit challenge — to the political war system of the United States.

“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday night. At least for now, Uncle Sam’s poodle is off the leash.

Now all eyes turn to Congress, where the bar has suddenly been raised. Can the House of Representatives measure up to the House of Commons?

It’s a crucial question — but President Obama intends to render it moot with unwavering contempt for the war authority of Congress. Like his predecessors.

Kevin Zeese: Obama May Be Walking Into an Impeachment Trap

The irony of the Obama presidency may hinge on whether he attacks Syria. He began his presidency prematurely winning the Nobel Peace Prize and could end it being impeached for starting an illegal war without congressional or UN approval – violating both domestic and international law. [..]

President Obama knows the limits of his powers.  In fact, if there is an impeachment proceeding his own words will be quoted. When he was running for president, Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Vice President Biden, in a 2007 campaign event in Iowa, went further, not only stating clearly that the president does not have unilateral power to conduct military attacks but threatening impeachment of President Bush if he did so.