Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.
To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States --The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced -- yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.
This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.
And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, whom he serves.
But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House's popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.
But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.
There were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.
In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war-contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.
The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush's war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.