Congress' war powers
“It was a damn near-run thing,” said the Duke of Wellington. The Iron Duke was speaking of Waterloo.
And for the United States, it was a damn near-run thing that we are not now in a major war — with an enraged Arab and Muslim world viewing sickening videos of dead and dying Syrian women and children from U.S. missile strikes.
Next time, we may not be so lucky. Next time, we may not have Vladimir Putin to pull our chestnuts out of the fire, as he did by seizing on yet another gaffe by John Kerry and converting it into a Russian plan to have Syria surrender its chemical weapons.
Putin pulled President Obama back off the ledge. He saved Obama from having either to ignominiously climb down from his “Assad must go!” and “red line” bluster — or act on his ultimata and plunge us into a war the American people and U.S. military do not want to fight.
Putin was acting in Russia's interests. But in preventing a U.S.-Syrian war, Putin's interests and ours are one.
Russia does not want a confrontation over U.S. missiles falling on its Syrian ally. Do we?
Russia does not want a wider Mideast war, which is what a U.S. strike would bring, with Russia and Iran racing to support and re-equip their stricken Syrian ally. Do we want that wider war?
Russia does not want Assad to fall, not only because that would mean a defeat for Russia, but because of the awful consequences.
Is Putin wrong when he writes in The New York Times of the rebels:
“The United States State Department has designated Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations.
“Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.”
Is Putin wrong? Even Obama seems to fear what Putin fears.
Thus Obama says any U.S. strike would not be intended to bring down Assad. But if he does not want regime change, why is Obama funneling weapons to rebels who are fighting for regime change?
Almost no one fears Assad would use chemical weapons on the United States. But if he falls, some of these weapons would surely fall into the hands of jihadists who would relish dispatching suicide bombers with nerve gas against Americans.
Putin's policy makes sense. It is Obama's policy that is incoherent.
No one seems able to point to a strategic benefit America will derive from a strike against Syria, other than feeling better about ourselves.
The natural instinct of the American people — Keep us out! — is correct.
House Republicans who oppose a U.S. war on Syria speak for the people and should pass a resolution instructing the president:
• Absent an attack on this country, you have no authority to take us to war against Syria or any other nation.
• We are taking back from you the war powers the Framers gave us.
• We are going to restore our constitutional republic.
Pat Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”
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