“Delay is preferable to error.”
– Thomas Jefferson
When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.”
– Thomas Jefferson
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Israeli intelligence sources tell us that the Syrian government was almost surely involved in the despicable gas attack on civilians this past week. A U.N. Mission is currently on the ground in Syria to collect evidence. Moscow has indicated that it won’t interfere in Western Military action against Syria, yet has stressed that it feels that Western nations are rushing into action before all the facts are known.
Why are we in such a hurry to make a U.S. military strike? Why don’t we wait a few days and allow the U.N. to complete its investigation and our allies to join in?
Many of those allies appear ready to join America in a coalition to discipline Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Shouldn’t we welcome them to the team and make them a part of the action?
“France is ready to punish those who took the heinous decision to gas innocents” in Syria last week, said French President François Hollande. The “most appropriate response”, he went on, should be made to the Syrian regime once “the main part” of the UN mission currently on the ground in Syria to collect evidence from last week’s attack is finished.
Great Britain’s British Prime Minister David Cameron said that any decision on Syria will be taken under a “strict international framework.” That could represent a “specific” military action against Syria, Cameron added. However, he also announced that Britain’s parliament will be recalled Thursday to vote on the UK’s government’s own response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.
Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons must not be allowed to continue. Alex Fishman, military analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth, wrote: “While the likelihood of Syria taking action against Israel if attacked by the United States is not high, in the Middle East … logic isn’t always the governing principle.
“We can only hope that if the Americans decide to attack that they will give us a few hours’ advance notice so that we can prepare for the possibility that the Syrians might go crazy.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that even absent UN Security Council approval, Turkey would consider taking part in an international coalition against the Syrian regime:
“We always make it a priority to act in accord with the UN and the international community. If the security council does not reach a decision [to take action], we will address other possible options. These alternatives are currently being discussed by 36 to 37 countries. If a coalition emerges from these discussions, Turkey will be a part of it.”
With this outpouring of international support, why would the US choose to go into action alone?
And if Great Britain can recall their parliament to vote on the British response, why doesn’t the US take the time to consult with our elected representatives? President Obama could easily call Congress back from its summer recess and see what its duly elected members have to say.
It wasn’t too long ago that President George Bush was chastised for going it alone in Iraq, for not getting UN approval before going after Saddam Hussein. Taking no position as to whether Mr. Bush was right or wrong, moving forward with a greater international consensus and/or UN Security Council approval would almost surely have reduced verbal outcries both here and abroad.
President Obama himself responded to a question posed during an interview with the Boston Globe on December 20, 2007:
[The Globe] In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an imminent threat?)
[Mr. Obama] 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.
I repeat. Why are we in such a rush? Let the UN inspection mission do its job. In the meantime, embrace and coordinate with our allies, and call Congress back to its desk for consultation. Meaning no disrespect to those who so tragically died in this horrific gas attack, but a few days pause for reflection, deliberate planning, and to follow the legal path which the President himself laid out in 2007 is not going to bring any of them back to life.
Putting our forces on alert, being prepared to take immediate action if and when necessary is no folly. If, by some insane illogic, another attack were to be promulgated by al-Assad, then clearly there would be no time for further delay. But in the face of such resounding international outrage over this last attack, such a thing is well-nigh unimaginable.
One wonders whether Thomas Jefferson, a man who counseled America to avoid international entanglements and leave Europe to herself, might have advised us to pursue this less hasty course of action.