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Obama, Congress and Syria

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Source: The Guardian

The president is celebrated for seeking a vote on his latest war even as his aides make clear it has no binding effect

http://schema.org/ImageObject">President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement on Syria in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. on 31 August 31, 2013.
President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, delivers a statement on Syria in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. on 31 August 31, 2013. Photograph: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Pool//Corbis

(Updated below)

It's a potent sign of how low the American political bar is set that gratitude is expressed because a US president says he will ask Congress to vote before he starts bombing another country that is not attacking or threatening the US. That the US will not become involved in foreign wars of choice without the consent of the American people through their representatives Congress is a central mandate of the US Constitution, not some enlightened, progressive innovation of the 21st century. 

George Bush, of course, sought Congressional approval for the war in Iraq (though he did so only once it was clear that Congress would grant it: I vividly remember watching then-Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joe Biden practically begging the Bush White House to "allow" Congress to vote on the attack while promising in advance that they would approve it).

But what makes the celebratory reaction to yesterday's announcement particularly odd is that the Congressional vote which Obama said he would seek appears, in his mind, to have no binding force at all. There is no reason to believe that a Congressional rejection of the war's authorization would constrain Obama in any way, other than perhaps politically. To the contrary, there is substantial evidence for the proposition that the White House sees the vote as purely advisory, i.e., meaningless.

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For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, How Would A Patriot (more...)
 

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"According to the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman, Sec... by Timothy Gatto on Sunday, Sep 1, 2013 at 3:31:04 PM
Yep, it's a done deal no matter how much political... by Donn Marten on Sunday, Sep 1, 2013 at 4:14:54 PM
Its Congress that would make it binding.  The... by Samson on Sunday, Sep 1, 2013 at 11:40:09 PM
"Why would the White House view the President's po... by Robert Albanys on Monday, Sep 2, 2013 at 12:59:53 AM
...it will give Obama a face-saving way out.... by Vierotchka on Monday, Sep 2, 2013 at 1:32:06 PM
If the American people cannot now perceive the ... by jon cranor on Monday, Sep 2, 2013 at 4:03:03 PM
There is no doubt that these chemical attacks were... by Ettore Greco on Monday, Sep 2, 2013 at 4:37:30 PM