Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dear President Obama: Talk to Congress Before Starting Any Wars

Dear President Obama:

Apparently you believe that you have authority to intervene in Iraq without consulting Congress.  So let me make this heartfelt appeal to you.  Talk to Congress before you do anything rash.

There are two reasons you should do this, one a matter of policy and one of politics.

As a matter of policy, we have had more than too many Presidents fighting unilateral, unauthorized wars.  Granted, this is not new.  As a matter of fact, it has been happening since Thomas Jefferson sent the Marines to the shores of Tripoli.  But enough is enough.  The decision to go to war (even a small war) is to large a decision to be made by one man.  It is a decision for the nation, to be made through its representatives in Congress.  Granted, in times past and no doubt times future Congress has not served as much of a brake on out-of-control Presidents.  But the nation is war weary and war wary.  If we are going to have a war, even on a small scale, it needs talking over before you do something stupid.

As for the matter of politics, in acting unilaterally, you leave yourself vulnerable.  Make no mistake, regardless of what you do, the Republicans will condemn you for it and say you should have done the opposite.  So instead of giving them the opening, force them to commit.  Granted, they will still blame you for withdrawing and insist that if you had just lest a small residual force, all would be well today. Well, don't worry.  No one believes them.  Not even Glen Beck, for God's sake!  So go ahead.  Before you act, make them stand up and commit.

With any luck, they will block you.

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