American Elephants

That Was Then, This is Now, And Tomorrow? by The Elephant's Child

Back in 2007, when Barack Obama was a mere senator, he was asked when Presidents have the authority to launch a military strike without congressional authorization. He had a precise answer at the ready. He told The Boston Globe:

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

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.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

The interview goes on, but of course it is hard to be consistent over time, and particularly when you are commenting on a situation and when you are embroiled in the situation yourself. Yet, it is useful to understand the changing views of an official. This is difficult territory. Still the interview is interesting, and Senator Obama is quick to grasp the opportunity to attack Bush with all the usual leftist talking points. Do not the comment on “warrantless surveillance of American citizens,” I think that’s something like hoist with your own petard.

The president, in an imprudent moment, announced that “Assad must go,” but did nothing at all to salvage his pronouncement, lessen the conflict, nor encouraged others to keep the rebellion from getting worse. Then he announced that he was drawing a”red line” in regard to chemical weapons, but did nothing about that either. People all over the Middle East seem to be killing their own people without any serious reaction from the rest of the world.

If we have a clear policy in regard to the Middle East, no one seems to know just what it is. One day Bashar al Assad is a “reformer”, then he is a perpetrator of crimes against humanity. Poison gas seems somehow worse than just shooting people, but for all of Obama’s declarations of red lines and crimes against humanity — we seem to have no policy except the delusion that all problems in the Middle East are because of the “conflict” between Israel and Palestine, and if the Israelis will just stop “building settlements” than all will be well. No mention of Palestinians rockets, of course.

It just doesn’t add up to a policy.

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