Check out my radio interview with Dr. Anab Whitehouse.
Dr. Anab “Bill” Whitehouse is a Muslim scholar and author who has published books and articles on 9/11, Constitutional liberty, religion and spirituality, and other issues. Dr. Whitehouse will be advising the American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) and has been invited to speak at the Million American March Against Fear in Washington DC next Wednesday, September 11th.
“Politics of fear” incite unconstitutional war on Syria
by Anab Whitehouse
Let me begin by saying that I am not a supporter of any political faction involved with the current Syrian crisis. For example, I view Bashar al-Assad as an oppressive tyrant in the mold of his father, Hafez.
Assad, The Elder, came to power via the route of a military coup some 40 years ago. He went on to use, among other things, the Air Force Intelligence Services as a tool of incarceration, torture, and murder in order to maintain control within Syria.
Assad, The Younger – aside from his usual duties as an autocratic dictator for some 13 years — violently and massively overreacted to the peaceful demonstrations that began taking place during 2011 in Syria as a part of the so-called Arab Spring that had spread across North Africa and into the Middle East. Apparently, Assad interpreted those demonstrations to be something of a harbinger of regime change along the lines that had taken place in Egypt and Tunisia previously … events which also began with public demonstrations of dissatisfaction concerning the prospect of having to continue on with the political corruption, abuses, exploitation, injustice, and incompetence that characterized the forms of governance in Egypt and Tunisia.
As a result, Assad authorized government forces to fire into crowds of peaceful demonstrators, throw protestors into jail, and torture citizens. From there, things went downhill very rapidly as they often do when people have a poor understanding and appreciation of the unforeseen forces that begin to emerge when chaos is let loose to roam the land … the sort of poor understanding toward which the United States has shown itself to be inclined again and again during the last 60 years, if not longer.
In the process, not only have there been more than 100,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war, but, as well, some 4.5 million Syrians have been dislocated within the country, and another 2 million have been forced into refugee status beyond the borders of Syria. Moreover, in some locations – Aleppo, for instance – there has been massive looting, including the dismantling of entire factories whose parts have been shipped off to Turkey, and elsewhere, to be sold.
Unfortunately, at the present time, the possible alternatives to Assad within Syria are not all that appealing either. There are reports that there are some 1,200 different factions within Syria, ranging from, on the one hand, small family groups who have been aggrieved by, and are seeking revenge for, this or that form of injustice or atrocity, to, on the other hand, much larger, well organized, disciplined, and very well funded armies/militias such as the al-Nusra Front that has pledged its allegiance to fundamentalist, extremist religious elements within the Middle East that are backed by money from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi.
Moreover, not everyone who is fighting in Syria is indigenous to that country. For example, the al-Nusra Front is allied with individuals who come from elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim world and who are fighting on behalf of a Wahhabi/Salafi set of theocratic beliefs. The Wahhabi orientation is somewhat different from the Salafi perspective, but they both are rooted in similar values and ideas – namely, they both give expression to very rigid, dogmatic, doctrinaire, narrow, and legalistic interpretations of Islam, and neither of those religious movements are shy about seeking to impose their interpretations on other people irrespective of whether those people are Muslim or not.
A variety of reports from in and around Syria indicate that personnel from the CIA and U.S. military Special Forces have been training some of these extremist elements for some time. That training began before the issue of chemical weapon usage in Syria arose.
Elements of Hezbollah (Lebanon) also have entered the war in Syria but on the opposite side of the Saudi-supported Wahhabi/Salafi forces. In fact, some individuals have credited the entrance of Hezbollah fighters into the Syrian morass as having helped to push the Syrian conflict in a direction that gave – however fleetingly — some degree of advantage to the Assad government in the on-going hostilities.
Hezbollah is aligned with Iran. Moreover, Iran has a mutual defense pact with the Assad government, and Iran is believed to be helping to finance, if not equip, the Hezbollah units from Lebanon.
I hold no animosity toward Iran. On the other hand, I am not an active — or an inactive — proponent of the Shi’a approach to Islam, any more than I am an active, or inactive, advocate for the Wahhabi/Salafi manner of engaging Islam.
The Russians also have a presence in Syria. They have had a long-standing set of economic, cultural, and military arrangements with Syria over the last 40 years that began under the auspices of the Soviet Union and continued on with Russia following the breakup of the old communist empire in 1991.
For example, the port of Tartus is the second largest port facility in Syria, and the Russians have a relatively small base in Tartus. That facility is the only base the Russians possess outside of the former Soviet Union, but it does give them a legitimate standing, of sorts, in Syria that the United States does not have.
On Friday: September 6, 2013, the final day of the G-20 Summit, took place. Putin used that occasion to organize a news conference during which he pledged Russian assistance to Syria in the event there is a military intervention of some kind by foreign governments with respect to that Arab country.
The nature and scope of such assistance was left unspecified. However, beside the Russian Navy vessels that already are present off the coast of Syria, the Russian news agency Interfax recently reported that it had been informed by a source affiliated with the naval command center in St. Petersburg that additional military ships have been reported sailing through the Bosphorus Strait and are on their way to the eastern Mediterranean and the vicinity of Syria.
One of the foregoing ships was reported to have picked up a ‘special cargo’ of some kind from the Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk before proceeding on toward the Mediterranean. The nature of that cargo was not identified.
The Israelis also have made their presence felt in Syria. Among other things, over the last year or so, the Israelis have authorized several military air strikes across the Syrian border for this or that reason involving issues of alleged national security.
According to the Times of Israel, there are reports from media sources in Lebanon that Israeli Defense Forces are gathering along the Israeli-Lebanese border in possible anticipation of American intervention in Syria. Furthermore, Lebanese media sources have reported that Lebanon has issued complaints to the United Nations that Israeli jets have been consistently violating Lebanese air space in southern Lebanon for a number of days.
Moreover, we should not forget the Chinese who have developed a flourishing economic relationship with Syria over the last 9-10 years. As a result, China has become Syria’s biggest trading partner, even outstripping the long-standing Russian-Syrian economic alliance.
In addition, the Chinese have deep ties to Syrian oil. For example, the Sinochem Corporation has a 50% stake in Syria’s largest oil field, and the China National Petroleum Corporation owns shares in two of Syria’s largest oil companies. Furthermore, the Chinese have entered into multibillion, multiyear contracts with Syria to explore and develop Syria’s oil potential.
A Russian news outlet, Telegrafist, has reported that the Chinese have dispatched the Jinggangshan — an amphibious dock landing vessel with defensive weapon capabilities — to the Mediterranean to keep tabs on both the Russians and the Americans who also have sent war ships into the area. However, there are also additional reports that the Chinese have dispatched additional ships into the area with more potent arrays of weaponry.
Some people refer to the Syrian conflict as a civil war. That is, the hostilities were a function of Syrians fighting against Syrians.
While the problem might have begun as a civil war, it has morphed into something that is much more complex and dangerous – not only with respect to Syria but in relation to the whole world. More specifically, the Syrian conflict has been transformed into a proxy war: Sunni (e.g., al-Nusra Front) against Shi’a (e.g., Hezbollah); Saudi Arabia against Iran; Israel versus Iran; the United States and Iran; the United States and Russia … and China.
More and more pressure is being applied to Syria both from within and without. As a result, the country could disintegrate before our eyes, and this fragmentation might be the fuse that is capable of igniting World War III.
Over the last several weeks, the problem posed by Syria has intensified considerably. The source of this added heat is the use of chemical weapons by someone in Syria.
No one disputes the fact that chemical weapons were released in Syria. However, what is far from clear are answers to questions such as: who is responsible, or why were chemical weapons used, or how many casualties occurred as a result of the usage of chemical weapons, and, finally, what should be done about the situation?
President Obama has reported that some 1,400 people, involving more than 400 children were victims of the most recent chemical incident. Other independent observers have indicated that the President’s figures might be somewhat inflated.
Even if one assumes that the President’s figures are correct, the fact of the matter is that Obama, himself, has been directly responsible for the deaths of between 558-1,119 innocent people, with somewhere between 204-350 of those people being children. He has done this via the drone program that he oversees and personally approves the targets in places such as Yemen and Pakistan.
Whoever is responsible for the release of chemical weapons in Syria has committed heinous acts … especially in relation to children who — no matter what the politics, actions, and views of their parents might be — are, nonetheless, innocent individuals caught up in conflicts that are not of their choice. Nevertheless, surely the same characterization applies to the slaughtering of innocent children in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere by the United States.
Madeline Albright — the former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton and who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama — was interviewed for the 60 Minutes television program in 1996. Leslie Stahl indicated that she had heard “that half a million children have died (in Iraq) … I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know … is the price worth it?” Albright responded by saying: “ I think this is a very hard choice, but the price … we think the price is worth it.”
Bill Richardson — a former Energy Secretary and U.N. Ambassador under Bill Clinton, and who also was nominated by Obama to be the Commerce Secretary during the first term of Obama’s administration — was interviewed by Amy Goodman on September 22, 2005 for an edition of Democracy Now. Goodman raised the question that had been asked of Madeleine Albright nearly ten years earlier – namely, “Do you think the price was worth it … 500,000 children dead? Richardson replied: “Well … I believe our policy was correct, yes.”
Of course, one must add to the foregoing totals the tens of thousands of Iraqi children – not to mention adults – who died for the sins of George Bush, the Younger, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Republican cabal that lied their way into a war that ended up destroying Iraq. Nor should we forget that it was the United States who supplied Saddam Hussein with the chemical weapons that he used on his own people — some of who were children — while the United States looked the other way because, at the time, it was in the interests of the United States to do so.
Now, the issue of innocent children being murdered – whether in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, or Pakistan — is certainly a very important moral issue. However, neither President Obama nor the United States government have the requisite moral authority or credibility to address that matter since they, themselves, have the blood of children on their hands. One cannot order drone strikes, as President Obama has done, that kill innocent people or award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a person (i.e., Madeleine Albright) who believes that slaughtering half a million children is a price worth paying for whatever foreign policy might have been realized, nor can President Obama nominate an individual for a Cabinet level position (i.e., Bill Richardson) who believes that slaughtering 500,000 children is the “correct” policy and expect to be taken seriously when the same President talks about the unspeakable horrors of innocent children dying as a result of the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Whoever was responsible for the release of chemical weapons in Syria during the August 21, 2013 incident, that event was not the first time chemical weapons have been used during the two-year Syrian conflict. Recently, Anthony Gucciardi, an investigative reporter, indicated that Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a report in early September 2013 revealing how a March 2013 chemical weapons incident that occurred in Aleppo, Syria was the result of U.S. supported rebel activities.
More specifically, the statement said: “Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group.” That same fighter group has been determined to be responsible for the burning of a number of villages of innocent civilians in Syria.
The information concerning the March 2013 Sarin-gas attack in Aleppo was contained in a 100-page technical analysis that was released to the United Nations in July 2013. The research underlying the report was not only conducted in accordance with the methodological protocols that have been established by the international group Organization For the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but, as well, forensic evidence which had been gathered in conjunction with the Aleppo incident were analyzed by labs in Russia that have been certified by the OPCW.
By contrast, statements released to the public by France, Britain, and the United States in relation to the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in Syria consist largely of circumstantial evidence, devoid of any real forensic rigor. In fact, the aforementioned statements from western governments do not even reflect any of the evidence that has been collected and is in the process of being analyzed by, United Nations weapon inspectors.
Now, someone might argue that the statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry is nothing more than Russia trying to create cover for its long-time Syrian ally. This might, or might not, be true, but, even if it were, such a course of action would be no different than when the United States makes repeated excuses for the Israeli government’s atrocities and brutalities involving the Palestinian people or tries to cover up the Israeli use of the chemical weapon white phosphorus against Palestinians in 2008 and 2009 – incidents that were reported on by the International Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International … in fact, following a series of reports by the foregoing NGOs, the Israeli government also staged a chemical attack against the United Nations headquarters in Gaza.
Despite U.S. assurances that classified documents prove Assad was behind the August 2013 chemical attacks, the situation is far from clear. First, the United States referred to all kinds of classified documents in its attempt to justify its criminal invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the equally criminal incursion into Iraq in 2003, but those documents were all rooted in lies, so, the United States has a considerable credibility problem when it comes to the use of classified documents as a means of trying to justify its subsequent actions.
Secondly, and, perhaps equally important, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Abaneh wrote an August 29, 2013 news story indicating there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest rebel forces may have been responsible – even if inadvertently so – for the August 2013 chemical weapons incident. After talking with numerous doctors, rebel factions, and residents of Ghouta (the suburb of Damascus where the chemical event took place), the picture that emerges is quite different from the story being pushed by the United States government concerning the same event.
More specifically, it seems that rebel forces had received a shipment of chemical weapons from the intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Apparently the weapons had been channeled through an individual from Saudi Arabia using the name Abu Ayesha, who was fighting with the rebels.
The rebels had been sleeping in private homes and mosques in the Ghouta region. While in the area, the rebels also had been storing the chemical weapons in tunnels, and the word is that one of the rebels mishandled the weapons, resulting in the release of the toxic chemicals, not only killing some of the rebels but, as well, killing other residents of the Damascus suburb.
The foregoing story is consistent with a Mossad intercept of a Syrian communication that was shared with the United States government. The intercept was a phone conversation between someone high up in the Assad military and another individual that was lower down the chain of command.
The higher-ranking person was apparently upset and wanted to know who was responsible for releasing the chemical weapon, apparently fearing that someone had either exceeded his/her authority or had gone rogue and decided to use chemical weapons. However, if the foregoing news account of Gavlak and Abaneh is correct, then no one in the government had exceeded authority or gone rogue because the August 2013 chemical incident was an accident committed by some of the rebels.
Unfortunately, the Israeli government wishes the United States to believe – which the U.S. apparently does – that the aforementioned intercept constitutes something of a smoking gun proving that the Assad government was responsible for the release of a chemical agent. However, in the light of the foregoing news report, the Mossad intercept does not necessarily prove what the Israelis claim it does … indeed the Mossad intercept might help prove that something quite different was going on, but the Israeli and U.S. governments were seeking to frame the intercept and insert it in their own narrative concerning events in Syria.
During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings concerning President Obama’s resolution about military intervention in Syria, Senator Barbara Boxer asked Secretary Kerry: “… I remember in Iraq, sure, eventually the word came down and everyone agreed, but then we found out there was disagreement. To your knowledge, did they [the intelligence agencies] come to the same conclusion [about the chemical event in August of 2013]? Secretary Kerry replied: “To my knowledge, I have no knowledge of any agency that was a dissenter or anybody who had an alternative theory, and I do know … I think its safe to say that they had a whole team that ran a scenario to test their theory to see if there was any possibility that they could come up with an alternative view as to who might have done it. The answer is: They could not.”
The foregoing sentiments are sort of reminiscent of Condoleezza Rice’s statement before the 9/11 Commission when she said: “No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon … into the World Trade Center, using planes as missiles” — but the fact of the matter is that both prior to 9/11 and on 9/11, the Pentagon and other agencies of the government ran a series of military exercises involving, among other things, precisely that scenario … but, then, why should Condoleezza Rice have known about those sorts of things since she only was a member of the National Security Council?
Secretary Kerry’s remarks display a similar naïveté, if not ignorance, with respect to the alleged scenario that was run by various intelligence agencies in order to determine whether, or not, someone beside Assad might have released chemical weapons during the August 2013 event. The Gavlak and Abaneh news report outlined above indicated that the chemical release was a mistake or accident committed by the rebels. The Mossad intercept which I alluded to earlier indicated that someone lower down the command chain might have either gone rogue or exceeded authority, and, if true, Assad did not necessarily order the attack. The Russian Foreign Ministry statement noted previously stipulated that evidence related to the March 2013 chemical/gas incident in Syria pointed toward the rebels and not to Assad.
The foregoing scenarios are not imagined. They are based on evidence.
The interpretation of that evidence which was contained in the news reporting might, or might not, be correct. However, whatever the case might be, apparently the seasoned pros of the United States intelligence services were not sufficiently competent to even think up those kinds of possibilities, let alone actually investigate them.
Yet, despite the questionable quality of the various intelligence services, the United States is, once again, ready to leap into the abyss of disaster and catastrophe by being willing to bomb everything and anything in Syria. No one knows just how rigorous – if at all – the foregoing alternative theory testing process by the intelligences services was, and I, for one, would not trust the competency of the Senate Committee members to be able to ask the necessary, critical questions concerning the nature of the classified intelligence data that supposedly has been assembled concerning the Syrian chemical event of August 2013.
All we have is the word of intelligence agencies, along with the word of the senators who were given access to the so-called classified information concerning the alleged chemical attack. We don’t know what the classified information said or how reliable it was, and given both the past history of the many errors of those very same intelligence agencies, as well as the willingness of members of Congress to be gullible with respect to consuming that kind of information, the fact of the matter is, nothing which any of the senators said following their classified concerning Syria briefing has a very high degree of credibility.
Speaking of the release of toxic weapons in the Middle East, we should not forget the following facts – facts which various intelligence agencies might like to deny but cannot. Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, the incidence of cancer in Iraq was approximately 40 per 100,00 individuals.
Following the 1991 war, the incidence of cancer in Iraq shot up to 800 per 100,000 individuals. Moreover, following the Iraq invasion of 2003, the cancer rate doubled to 1,600 per 100,000 individuals. In addition, the rate of birth defects in Fallujah, among other places in Iraq, is 1,400 times higher than was recorded in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The foregoing skyrocketing incidence of cancer and birth defects in Iraq is due to the use of depleted uranium that is used in the munitions of the U.S. military in order to achieve, among other things, greater penetrating power in relation to enemy targets but which also is radioactive. Furthermore, even U.S. soldiers are suffering from the toxic contamination generated by the use of depleted uranium.
155 countries voted to ban the use of depleted uranium. The United States, France, United Kingdom, and Israel voted against the resolution.
The other day I read a September, 3, 2013 item from Bloomberg News that described how, despite the fact that lead has been banned from most products sold in the United States and Europe (notwithstanding the presence of some lead-containing Chinese exports), both the European Union and the United States permit companies to sell millions of dollars worth of lead-containing products to a burgeoning foreign market in various developing countries. Given that it has been empirically demonstrated there is not any safe level of exposure to lead – especially among pregnant women, infants, and young children — can one characterize the willingness of, say, the United States government (which is responsible for the regulation of commerce) to knowingly permit American companies to sell lead-containing products in foreign markets to be anything but chemical warfare (in the guise of economic activity) that is being waged against the children of the developing countries where those products are sold?
In 2004, the United States military used white phosphorous in Fallujah, Iraq. The source for this information comes from a number of western journalists who were embedded with the American infantry.
Initially, the United States claimed that, yes, white phosphorous had been used in Fallujah but only in the role of an obscurant or smoke screen, and this was perfectly legal to do. Yet, somehow, mysteriously, civilians in Fallujah were horribly burned by, and died from, exposure to white phosphorous.
After additional news coverage concerning the use of chemical weapons by the Untied States during the battle of Fallujah in 2004, the United States military authorities finally admitted that white phosphorus had been used in incendiary devices that had been fired into the city of Fallujah, resulting in many deaths of men, women, and children.
White phosphorous is prohibited from being used in conjunction with civilians by the Geneva Conventions, as well as by the Convention of Certain Chemical Weapons. And, yet, both the United States and Israeli military have transgressed against those international prohibitions and norms.
During Vietnam, the United States released tons of the highly toxic chemical dioxin in the form of Agent Orange. Other toxic chemicals were released into the ecology of Vietnam through Agents Blue, Green, Purple, and so on … agents that have been traced as playing a significant role in causing birth defects and deformities in the children of Vietnam.
The foregoing weapons were used because they had been shown to be toxic through empirical work, and, therefore, no one can try to claim that: “Gee, we had no idea.” Nevertheless, for years, the U.S. government has tried to deny there was anything inappropriate or toxic in conjunction with the use of such chemical agents.
None of the foregoing is cited in order to try to justify the use of chemical weapons in August 2013 within Syria – irrespective of who is shown to have been responsible for such acts, and quite apart from whether this was done by design or by accident. The foregoing array of facts merely indicates, as previously suggested in this essay, that the United States has no credibility or moral authority when it comes to being outraged by the use of chemical weapons in Syria … it is a case of the rather huge pot (the United States) calling the kettle (Syria) black (and no racial reference is intended here).
The United States claims to be very concerned about the callous and inhumane way in which international conventions concerning chemical weapons have been trampled upon by the Assad government. The United States wants to teach Assad a lesson and ensure that such an egregious contravention of international standards of moral behavior will not occur again, and, therefore, agents of President Obama (in the persons of Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey) have gone to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a resolution for authority to use military force in Syria to serve as a deterrent against the likelihood that Assad might – if he actually did – use such weapons again in the future.
Article 51 of the United Nations Charter stipulates:
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
The United States has not been attacked by Syria. No other member of the United Nations has been attacked by Syria.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that neither the United States nor any other member of the United Nations has been attacked by Syria, the United States wants to violate the internationally agreed upon charter – one to which the United States is a signatory – and attack Syria anyway. I’m a little confused.
If the purpose of the proposed Obama resolution concerning his wish to bomb Syria is to protect the sacred principles of internationally agreed upon conventions from being violated, then how is that purpose served by violating an internationally agreed upon convention – namely, the United Nation’s Charter – in order to accomplish his aim? President Obama seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, or, as some of my Indian ancestors might say: ‘He speaks with a forked tongue’ … or, perhaps, we can just refer to it as the mother of all forms of hypocrisy.
During a September 5, 2013 news conference that occurred in Sweden, President Obama — who was on his way to the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia — said the following words in response to a question about whether or not his credibility was on the line in relation to the Syrian crisis: “My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line, and America’s and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”
President Obama would seem to be engaging in a certain amount of psychic projection. He is the one who seems to be playing lip service to international norms such as: Article 51 of the United Nation’s Charter; or, the conventions against the use of depleted uranium; or, the continued deployment of landmines; or, the use of torture; or, the prosecution of certain cases of criminal activity performed on the world stage (such as the war crimes that have been committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya) through the World Court in the Hague; or, preventing Israel from continuing to transgress against international norms concerning the occupied territories in Palestine; or, inducing Israel to come clean on its nuclear program.
The fact the United States has not signed off on some of the foregoing conventions does not mean the vast majority of the nations of the world have not subscribed to those norms. Therefore, the United States laxity with respect to an array of international norms might tend to suggest that the United States is, at best, very selective –- in a completely self-serving and unjustifiable manner — and at worse, the United States is, in many instances, a rogue nation when it comes to abiding by the norms of international conventions.
President Obama likes to refer to the United States as a country that lives in accordance with the ‘rule of law.’ One cannot be considered to be a nation which operates under the rule of law if one cherry-picks only those rules of law that serve one’s interests while ignoring all the rules of law that might not serve one’s self-serving interests.
In relation to the resolution that President Obama recently sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration, he said: “This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan. This is a limited, proportional step.”
In one respect, President Obama is quite correct. The Syrian crisis is not Iraq, and it is not Afghanistan.
Russia, China, Israel, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran were not a part of the hostilities that the United States began during 2001 and 2003 in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively (although Iran did — for a time, to a limited degree, and indirectly — enter the fray some time after hostilities began). Now, however, all the aforementioned forces (plus a few more) have a stake in what transpires in Syria, and in this respect, the Syrian crisis has the potential to be much, much worse than what transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq … as horrific as the latter wars were and are.
President Obama claims that what he is proposing is a limited, proportional step. One wonders about the reasoning underlying such an assertion.
My understanding is that the President has asked for a 60-day period during which he would be authorized by Congress to use military force in Syria. The military force would take the form of, among other things, cruise missiles. Apparently, there are also provisions within the proposed resolution for a further 30 days of military action if that is deemed to be required after evaluating the results of the first 60 days of bombing.
Everybody in Obama’s administration seems to feel that irrespective of whatever might transpire during the 60-90 day period of authorized military force, those activities will not be sufficient to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons capacity. In fact, some commentators have indicated that the bombing of Syrian targets will not necessarily even be directed toward chemical weapons storage facilities since there is some concern that destroying those facilities might release the very chemicals that are of such concern to U.S. authorities.
So, other targets will be selected. Perhaps they will zero in on delivery systems such as airplanes or the runways needed by those vehicles.
The New York Times reported on September 5, 2013 that: “President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action.” Consequently, the original list of targets has been expanded to more than 50 possible sites.
According to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the target list is comprised of military units, storage-facilities, as well as artillery/missile/rocket equipment that are connected with the possible use or protection of chemical weapons. Regardless of the targets selected, I want to know how President Obama can be certain that the response will be limited and proportional. He claims that 1,400 innocent civilians were killed in the toxic chemical event, and, consequently, a proportional strike presumably would involve the elimination of 1,400 members from Assad’s government.
How does he propose to accomplish such proportionality? In every military engagement in which the United States has been involved – from World War I right through the Iraq war, the majority of people who have died from military activity have been civilians.
Despite the exaggerated claims of defense contractors and the military, most of the so-called smart weapons have proven to be fairly dumb. As a result, civilians have been indiscriminately killed along with whatever enemy combatants might happen to have been around when such smart weapons were unleashed.
The chances are very high that innocent civilians will be more proportionately affected than will members of Assad’s government or military forces. When missiles are launched from U.S. ships, transportation networks, food distribution chains, drinkable water sources, medical facilities, housing complexes, and civilian jobs are all likely to be adversely affected, and, in the process, there will be considerable disruption, displacement, degrading, and destruction of civilian life.
Reuters has recently reported that on Wednesday – September 4, 2013 – the Russian Foreign Ministry made a statement that was intended for the ears of the United Nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in relation to the possible, impending military intervention into Syria by the United States. More specifically, there is a Miniature Source Reactor near to Damascus which, if hit, could represent a considerable radiation hazard for – at the very least — the people of Damascus.
In 2007, the Israeli government bombed a desert facility in Deir al-Zor, Syria that — according to intelligence gathered by the United States — was using a North Korean reactor design that, supposedly, was capable of yielding plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons. The Deir al-Zor facility might, or might not, have been dedicated to the purpose which American intelligence claimed, but there are several points that can be noted in passing.
First, the Israeli attack was in violation of the United Nations Charter since Israel was not under attack from Syria. Secondly, Israel does have nuclear weapons and, therefore, one has to put the situation into context – when people (e.g., Syria) feel threatened by the nuclear capability of a neighbor (i.e., Israel), then the politics of fear take over, and there is a desire in such people to want to defend themselves against such a nuclear arsenal. And, finally, even if the intelligence concerning the Deir al-Zor facility was accurate, neither America nor Israel seemed to care in the least about what sort of radiological hazard they might be creating for innocent people in Syria, and one can only hope that such apparent, callous indifference is not shaping the targeting process that is currently transpiring among American military officials in relation to Syria.
One of the estimates making the rounds is that some 200-300 cruise missiles might be utilized during the proposed Syrian action. If my arithmetic is correct and one wishes to exercise a proportionate response, then that works out to be somewhere between 4.5 and 7 people per cruise missile, and given that each cruise missile costs approximately 1.4 million dollars (and this doesn’t include the costs of staffing and operating the ships from which the missiles are fired).
According to a report from Reuters, Defense Secretary Chuck Hegal recently estimated that even a limited military intervention in Syria would cost tens of millions of dollars. Such a proportionate response doesn’t seem very proportionate as far as the American people are concerned … a lot of hungry, sick, and homeless people could be helped by the money that might be used to allegedly uphold a humanitarian principle and international norm in Syria.
As Alan Grayson, the Florida Congressman, said in relation to the possibility of bombing Syria: “Why can’t we concentrate on our own problems?” Indeed, what about the humanitarian principle of feeding the poor of America, or providing them with shelter, or administering to their physical, emotional, and community needs?” How is the bombing of people in Syria a more important humanitarian principle than looking after the needs of our own citizens – especially in view of the high likelihood that sending 200-300 cruise missiles into Syria will lead to problems of hunger, shelter, and medical needs in that country … thereby, merely increasing the misery of innocent people in the world?
Raytheon, the maker of Tomahawk missiles, might be proportionately happy with the launch of each implement of destruction (replacement profits will be dancing around in their heads). However, such an exercise is not really proportionate when it comes to the costs that will be incurred by innocent civilians in Syria or the United States.
When testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier in the week, John Kerry said: “You know, we got three people here (i.e., Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of Defense Hagel, and General Dempsey) who have been to war … you’ve got John McCain (Kerry pointed toward the Committee members) who’s been to war. There’s not one of us who doesn’t understand what going to war means, and we don’t want to go to war.” The statement is somewhat disingenuous.
Secretary Kerry should have been asking what going to war means to the innocent citizens in Syria who undoubtedly will have their lives torn apart by the 60-90 days of bombing being proposed by the President. However, given that most politicians, including Secretary Kerry, are very self-absorbed, the idea that war might affect someone other than a soldier – and he only refers to soldiers in his statement — seems to be lost on him.
Secretary Kerry went on to say: “We don’t believe we are going to war in the classic sense of taking American troops and America to war.” Like Bill Clinton and his infamous parsing of: “I did not have sex with that woman,” Secretary Kerry likes to play around with words when he alludes to the idea that the President is not asking to go to “war in the classic sense.”
When bombs are dropped or missiles are launched, people die and societies are destroyed. This remains true quite independently of whether boots are put on the ground.
Furthermore, despite Secretary Kerry’s remonstrations to the contrary, American boots already are on the ground in Syria in the form of CIA operatives and Special Forces personnel who have been training, organizing, and equipping rebels. In addition, many of those rebels are aligned with, loyal to, and part of the very al-Qaeda network with respect to which the United States has declared, and continues to declare, a ‘War on Terror.’
If dropping bombs, launching missiles, as well as training, organizing and equipping rebels is not war, then what is it? If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then one should refer to it as war and not something else.
Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked General Dempsey how an American military intervention might help the rebels who are fighting the Assad regime. General Dempsey replied: “The path to the resolution of the Syrian conflict is through a developed, capable, moderate opposition, and we know how to do that.”
I hope the rest of the General’s qualifications do not reflect the same degree of ignorance that the foregoing statement does, for if his other qualifications are equally deficient, then this does not bode well for the quality of the planning that is being devised in relation to Syria. The fact of the matter is over the last several hundred years, neither the American military nor a series of executive branch administrations have demonstrated any understanding of other societies, cultures, and political environments … beginning with the indigenous peoples that populated the Americas before explorers, military expeditions, and colonists first showed up in North America and proceeded to commit genocide against native peoples.
America is, however, very good at destabilizing societies around the world. We do this through our military, our corporations, our financial institutions, the judicial branch, and the foreign policy initiatives of the federal government that often are implemented, in one way or another, through the covert operations of the CIA.
Take a look at what we have “accomplished” in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. We have helped to destroy those societies.
Now the American government wants to apply its expertise in developing “capable, moderate opposition” in Syria. The opposition is so capable and moderate that it is beheading people, burning villages, looting, dismantling factories, and using chemical weapons.
Chemical munitions are considered to be weapons of mass destruction. When 100,000 people die – as has occurred in Syria, and that count continues to rise every hour of the day – even bullets become weapons of mass destruction.
What difference does it make if innocent people die from a bullet, a conventional bomb, or a chemical weapon? Dead is dead, and the slaughter of thousands of civilians necessarily indicates that weapons of mass destruction are being used quite irrespective of whether, or not, that usage comes in the form of bullets, conventional bombs, missiles, depleted uranium, or chemical weapons.
President Obama is using arbitrary and self-serving metrics when it comes to measuring the presence of weapons of mass destruction in various locations. The defense industries of America, Israel, Europe, Russia, and Iran have been pumping weapons of mass destruction into the Middle East, Africa, and Asia for years, and as a result, tens of thousands of people have died through the introduction of those weapons.
Bush, The Younger, and associated knaves were deeply troubled by the possibility that the alleged enemies of America possessed weapons of mass destruction. The only use of weapons of mass destruction that took place in Afghanistan and Iraq were deployed by America, and now President Obama wishes to continue on with that grand tradition by taking limited, proportionate action in Syria.
Some – including Russia’s Valery Putin – have suggested that it would have been illogical for Assad to use chemical weapons. The entry into the Syrian conflict of elements from Hezbollah has helped nudge the fighting in a direction that – at least for the time being — is to the advantage of the Assad regime relative to the various rebel factions.
Others – for instance, James Morrow of the University of Michigan – believe that dictators do stupid, illogical counter-productive things all the time. Consequently, it is entirely possible that Assad might have done something – i.e., release chemical weapons – that was not in his best interests, and, indeed, Professor Morrow believes this is exactly what happened.
Professor Morrow claims to have done a lot of research in conjunction with the use of chemical weapons. His research led him to the conclusion that when chemical weapons are used, those acts are almost always carried out by governments, and, therefore, the good professor has little doubt that Bashar Assad is guilty as charged.
Well, off the top of my head, I can think of three incidents that do not fit in with Professor Morrow’s theory. For instance, there is the Sarin gas attack perpetrated by the Aum Shinri Kyo that took place in Japan in 1995, and then there was the use of cyanide during the 1978 Jonestown massacre. Finally, there is the Union Carbide accident in Bhopal, India during 1984.
The last case – an accident – is relevant to the Syrian situation because there is some evidence to indicate that the August 2013 release of chemical toxins in Syria might have been an accident. As previously pointed out, the release of chemical toxins was reported to have been due to an apparent mishandling of chemical weapons that had been provided to the rebels in Syria by Saudi Arabia’s head of Intelligence Services.
Maybe Professor Morrow is correct in his beliefs concerning the issue of responsibility for the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in Syria. However, if the primary reason for arriving at his conclusion concerning that event is because of some general background research he did that indicated how other chemical attacks were almost always conducted by government entities, his reasoning process seems rather empirically deficient because not only have I presented three instances – with almost no research – that tend to refute Professor Morrow’s thesis, but, as well, his statement reflects absolutely no actual, detailed, rigorously acquired data concerning the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in Syria. One can only hope that Professor Morrow is teaching his students a much more rigorous process of reasoning and drawing conclusions than his research concerning chemical weapons in relation to Syria seems to indicate.
Some people – politicians, a few journalists, and news commentators – are arguing that if America doesn’t militarily intervene in Syria as a response to the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in a suburb of Damascus, then American credibility will suffer a catastrophic blow, and, furthermore, we will be giving people like Assad a green light to use such weapons in the future. For example, Secretary of State John Kerry recently said the following words before the Foreign Senate Relations Committee:
“I cannot emphasize enough how much they are looking to us now, making judgments about us for the long term, and how critical the choice we make here will be … not just to this question of Syria but to the support we may, or may not, anticipate in the Mideast peace process … to the future of Egypt … to the transformation of the Middle East … to the stability of the region and other interests that we have …”
Secretary Kerry didn’t identify the “they” who allegedly “are looking to us now.” One might suppose, however, that he is alluding to both the “enemies” of the United States, as well as to America’s possible allies.
Be this as it may, the foregoing statement of Secretary Kerry gives expression to both the politics of fear as well as uses the technique of framing things in a way that is self-serving to him. What Kerry means by the “peace process” is a continued policy that enables the Israeli government to kill, torture, imprison, maim, and destroy Palestinians, while stealing their land through illegal settlements and illegal walls of division. What Kerry means by the “peace process” are policies that permit America to attack, without provocation or justification, countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria in order to further the economic, financial, corporate, and military interests of the power elite. What Kerry means by the “peace process” is however the United States wishes to define that process and quite independently of the needs and wishes of the people who are being crushed by that “peace process.”
In the foregoing quoted statement, Secretary Kerry mentions “the transformation of the Middle East.” Whose version of transformation does he have in mind? The transformation he envisions is one that is acceptable to the power elite in America, Britain, France, and Israel.
Moreover, when Secretary Kerry speaks about “stability in the region” this is code for what corporate, financial, and military interests in the West and in Israel consider to be stable and which will serve their interests quite apart from considerations of the social, economic, educational, environmental, political, institutional, environmental, and medical needs of the people in the Middle East who live outside Israel.
Indeed, the words that Secretary Kerry uses toward the last part of this foregoing statement are: “… and other interests that we have.” There is no doubt about who the “we” is to whom Secretary Kerry is referring in his statement … and “they” — the people of the Middle East with the exception of some, but not all, Israelis — are not part of that ‘we’.
During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Secretary Kerry indicated there were concerns that if Assad is not held accountable for using chemical weapons and if Hezbollah should somehow acquire access to those weapons, then the security of Israel will be threatened. However, at another point during the hearings, Secretary Kerry said: “And Israel feels quite confident in its ability to deal with Hezbollah if they [i.e., Hezbollah] were to do so.”
If Israel feels quite confident in its ability to deal with Hezbollah, then why is Secretary Kerry speculating about possible threats to Israeli security? If one of the concerns of the United States administration has with respect to Syria revolves around the issue of threats to Israeli security, then there is no need to intervene in Syria since, by Secretary Kerry’s own admission, the Israeli’s are quite confident in their ability to handle such threats.
At another juncture during the hearings, Secretary Kerry said: “You will notice that Israel has on several occasions in the last years seen fit to deal with threats to its security because of what’s in Syria and not once has Assad responded to that to date.” Aside from the fact that in dealing with threats by making military strikes inside Syria, Israel once again demonstrated its contempt for international norms (and Secretary is testifying to this), apparently, the moral of the Secretary’s remarks is that all Assad understands is force, and, if we don’t hold Assad responsible for the alleged use of chemical weapons, then he will use them again.
The fact of the matter is that Secretary Kerry has no idea what Assad will do. If Assad is the thug that Secretary Kerry has labeled him to be in previous statements, then how can Kerry be sure that Assad won’t be provoked into using whatever weapons he has by the sort of military intervention being proposed by the President – a proposal that violates the United Nations Charter?
Apparently Secretary Kerry has powers of clairvoyance … or he knows people that do. In response to Senator Rand Paul’s assertion that it can’t be known what Assad will or won’t do if not attacked, Secretary Kerry assertively replied: “Senator, it’s not unknown. If the United States of America does not hold him (Assad) accountable on this with our allies … it is a guarantee Assad will do it again … a guarantee, and I urge you to go to the classified briefing and learn that.”
According to Secretary Kerry, there is information that will be forthcoming in classified briefings that guarantees Assad will behave in a certain way. Perhaps, the people who are responsible for such a guarantee are the same individuals – or similar to them – who failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union, and who failed to detect the fact that Pakistan had developed nuclear capabilities, and who got the issue of weapons of mass destruction so wrong with respect to Iraq.
Furthermore, I wonder if the guarantee to which Secretary Kerry is referring is anything like the guarantee that exists in Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution that requires the federal government to deliver to every state (and this includes the citizens inhabiting those states) a republican form of government … one that is objective, transparent, just, compassionate, honest, moral, impartial, reasoned, independent of self-interest, and does not attempt to serve as judges in its own cause … causes such as militarily intervening in places like Syria. I’ll come back to this issue shortly.
If Assad is responsible for the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in the suburbs of Damascus, he should be held responsible, but that should be done through the International Criminal Court. Why should we suppose – as President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry do — that the only option for holding Assad responsible is through military intervention?
If the world had stopped arming the multifaceted factions within Syria, including the Assad government, two years ago, then, perhaps, we would not be staring into the abyss of a possible World War III, as is the case at the present time. The munitions dealers of the world – and the United States is the largest of them – have made the Syrian conflict possible.
If the United States wishes to identify those who are responsible for what is going on in Syria all it has to do is look in the mirror (and Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Russia – among others — should do the same) because U.S. economic, military, and foreign policy in the Middle East over the last 100 years has helped bring us to where things stand today. To be sure, Assad has his role to play in the Syrian crisis. However, there are many players both outside of, and within, Syria who are responsible for the Syrian crisis.
One wonders why the only fingers that are being pointed are toward Assad? The process of adjudication seems rather arbitrary, biased, and filled with the politics and rhetoric of fear.
Now, let me let you in on a little secret. No matter what one might think about the August 21, 2013 chemical incident in Syria and no matter who one believes is responsible for its occurrence, neither the President of the United States, nor Congress – short of declaring war – has any authority under the Constitution to pass resolutions calling for militarily interventions that do not rise to the standard of declared war. In other words, unless Congress makes an actual declaration of war in relation to Syria, then, the Constitution is devoid of the sort of provisions that would empower either the President, or Congress, to authorize military operations in a foreign country.
For example, the Constitution designates the President as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, as well as in relation to the militia of the several states. Nonetheless, this designation does not entitle the President to conduct military operations — either overtly or covertly – absent being “called into the actual service of the United States” by Congress.
The President is only the Commander in Chief of the Army, Navy, and state militia “when” he is called upon by Congress to serve in this capacity. However, the President, individually, cannot initiate such actions. There is no executive privilege for conducting military operations independently of a declaration of war by Congress.
There are even further restrictions on a President’s role as Commander in Chief. Under Article I, Section 8, Congress has the power both: “To raise and support armies”, as well as “to make rules for the government and regulation of land and naval forces.”
The Commander in Chief cannot raise armies on his or her own. The Commander in Chief cannot make the rules for governing and regulating the armies that are raised. All the Commander in Chief can do is direct the armies in accordance with the rules for governing and regulating the military forces that have been established by Congress.
Some people like to speak about the idea of implied powers that supposedly lay nascent in the Constitution. Nonetheless, there is nothing in the Constitution that mentions the idea of implied powers with respect to either Congress or the President.
The closest that one comes to the idea of implied powers is in the “necessary and proper clause” at the end of Section 8 in Article I. However, that clause pertains to Congress and not to the President.
More importantly, even with respect to Congress, what is considered necessary and proper is a function of the powers that are specifically enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments collectively stipulate that the powers of the federal government do not extend beyond the enumerated powers specified in the Constitution.
The Ninth Amendment indicates that: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be considered to deny or disparage others by the people. The Tenth Amendment stipulates that: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Taken collectively, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments indicate something very important. More specifically, if a given power is not enumerated or specified in the Constitution as being a prerogative of the federal government, then whatever rights and powers are not enumerated belong to the people and are not subject to government authority.
The foregoing provisions are rooted in an issue that was brought up again and again during the process of ratifying the Constitution. Colonists were afraid that the federal government would try to extend the scope of its powers by legislating new ones, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were established to address those concerns.
The idea of implied powers of Congress or executive privilege of the President are circumscribed by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. If the Constitution does not enumerate or specify a given power, then one cannot try to get around that restraint through the notions of implied powers or executive privilege.
The idea of implied powers in relation to the Executive Branch – which usually is referred to as executive privilege — is a mythological invention of the Executive Branch via the Office of Legal Counsel (which is overseen by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General). Executive privilege is just that – a privilege that the Executive Branch, without Constitutional authorization, has granted itself.
Neither Congress nor The Executive Branch, and in fact not even the Judicial Branch, has the Constitutional authority to grant the President executive privilege. Such powers are not enumerated in the Constitution, and, therefore, are without constitutional standing.
Consequently, all the drone operations that are run out of the White House are unconstitutional. Furthermore, all of the covert operations that are performed by the Central Intelligence Agency – or other clandestine forces of the federal government — are unconstitutional because they constitute military operations that are conducted without a declaration of war by Congress.
In addition, Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution places further operational constraints on the meaning of “necessary and proper” in relation to Congress since whatever the federal government does to carry into execution the enumerated powers it has been granted in the Constitution must be done in accordance with the principles of republicanism that are at the heart of the guarantee to which Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution gives expression.
The Constitution does state that Congress has the power “to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the laws of nations.” However, are we to suppose that the United States Congress is being given authority through the foregoing enumerated power to go into other countries and define offenses in whatever way it likes or to punish citizens of other countries in whatever way it deems fit?
The answer to both questions is: No! Authorizing the President to go into other countries and to arbitrarily define crimes or to arbitrarily punish the citizens of a country beyond the borders of the United States would be a gross violation of Article IV, Section 4. Such actions cannot be reconciled with the moral principles that are inherent in the philosophy of republicanism because those actions could not be shown to be a function of impartial, transparent, objective, non-arbitrary, rational, just, compassionate, noble principles with respect to which the members of Congress were not acting as judges in their own cause or interests.
The Constitutional power afforded Congress “to define and punish … offenses against the laws of nations” refers to American citizens who may have committed such offenses. No one is his or her right mind would suppose that such a power was intended to entitle America to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries by arbitrarily defining offenses and punishing whomever the federal government deemed was guilty of committing such offenses against the laws of nations.
The Constitution empowers Congress to call forth the militia to repel invasions. Syria has not invaded the United States. Therefore, Congress cannot use the militia (including the National Guard) to repel countries that have not invaded the United States, nor can Congress use the militia to fight undeclared wars in other countries.
Congress has been empowered by the Constitution “to grant letters of marquee and reprisal.” However, a letter of marquee concerns private individuals – known as privateers — and not an army.
Privateers were authorized to attack and capture enemy ships and bring those vessels before admiralty courts for the purpose of sale. While such letters of marquee and reprisal were an accepted part of the world of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, today, there are rules and norms that would deem such actions to be a violation of international law. As such, the idea of issuing letters of marquee and reprisal are as defunct as are the provisions in the Constitution that mention slaves.
Even if international protocols concerning such letters of marquee and reprisal were not in place, Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution would place severe constraints on what could, and could not, be done through those sorts of letters of authorization. The Executive and Legislative Branches are not free to authorize just anything they like.
What is authorized through those sorts of letters must be in accordance with the guarantee of republican governance that is specified in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. Thus, military contractors would not be able to do the things they have been enabled to do in Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States Government because their actions cannot be reconciled with the moral principles of republicanism.
Making rules concerning “captures on land and water”, or “making rules for the regulation of the land and naval forces,” or “raising and supporting armies” are not the same thing as conducting military operations. All the foregoing enumerated Congressional powers can only be directed toward foreign countries when war has been declared or the United States has been physically invaded. There is nothing in the Constitution that permits military operations to be directed toward foreign countries in the absence of a declaration of war.
Even in conjunction with the “necessary and proper” clause of Article I, Section 8, Congress is not empowered to authorize military operations that do not meet the standard of a declaration of war. This is because conducting such non-war military operations is not one of the specified or enumerated powers that have been granted to Congress, and, in addition, conducting those sort of non-war military operations cannot be shown to be “necessary and proper” with respect to the moral constraints placed on Congress and the Executive by the guarantee of republican government that is specified in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Thus, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 is unconstitutional. While that resolution sought to place curbs on Presidential authority to conduct military operations that were not sanctioned through a Congressional declaration of war, Congress did not have the power to authorize military operations that were not based on such a declaration … that is, there is no enumerated power pertaining to Congress that permits Congress to authorize the President to conduct military operations that were not conducted under the auspices of a declaration of war — which is exactly what the War Powers Resolution seeks to do.
If there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces” (wording is from the War Powers Resolution), then either Congress declares war in response to that emergency or Congress is constitutionally required to stand down. Troops cannot be committed to alleged national emergencies and attacks unless a declaration of war has been legislated by Congress.
Can one conclude from the foregoing that Congress is entitled to declare war according to its wishes and inclinations? The answer is: No!
Any declaration of war must be capable of meeting the test of Article IV, Section 4. In other words, in order for a given declaration of war to be considered to be Constitutionally justified, Congress must be able to demonstrate that such a decision has been impartial, objective, honest, transparent, just, fair, rational, and arrived at through standards of integrity.
Moreover, because a central principle of republican philosophy requires that the members of the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary cannot be judges in their own cause, it is the people – not the government — who must determine whether such a declaration of war has satisfied the guarantee of republican governance. This power has been delegated to the people via the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
None of the foregoing considerations prevent Congress and the President from defending the United States against direct physical attacks upon America. However, such empowerment does not entitle the President, or Congress, or the military to expand the meaning of the United States and, thereby, seek to claim that the 700-plus military bases which have been established around the world constitute states or are entitled to conduct military operations in conjunction with those bases unless a declaration of war has been legislated by Congress that is capable of meeting the standards of a guarantee of republican governance in conjunction with such a declaration … and as indicated above, the responsibility for determining whether the government has satisfied that Constitutional principle inherent in Article IV, Section 4, belongs to the people and not to the government.
Undoubtedly, there will be many who might object to the foregoing analysis, considering it to be impractical for the times in which we live. Be that as it may, if one wishes to consider the United States as a nation that operates in accordance with the rule of law than either we must abide by the requirements of the Constitution as written or we must come up with something that is different.
Whatever the future might hold with respect to the foregoing problem or issue, nevertheless, at the present time, everything that exists in the current form of the Constitution must be understood through the light of Article IV, Section 4 because that is the only place in the Constitution where a guarantee has been given. Thus, as far as the current Syrian crisis is concerned, neither the President nor Congress is empowered by the Constitution to pass a resolution that authorizes military operations without the presence of an accompanying Congressional declaration of war, and, furthermore, if a declaration of war were to be passed, that law must be capable of satisfying the requirements of Article IV, Section 4, and the judgment as to whether, or not, the federal government has satisfied the conditions of republican governance is the responsibility of the people, not government.