Obama’s red lines

Posted on November 13, 2013. Filed under: Government Spending, Law, Liberty, People, Philosophy, Politics, War, Weapons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Obama’s red lines

By Raymond Thomas Pronk

President Obama has a credibility problem concerning red lines.

On Aug. 20, 2012, in a press conference from the White House, Obama said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.” A YouTube video titled “US President Barack Obama in ‘red line’ warning to Syria over chemical weapons” captured Obama’s statement.

On Sept. 4, in a press conference in Stockholm, Obama said, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line. My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility’s on the line.” A YouTube video titled “President Obama: I Didn’t Set The Red Line, The World Set The Red Line” captured Obama’s latest statement regarding a red line.

On Aug. 31, Obama announced that he would be seeking from Congress a resolution authorizing military action against the Assad regime for using chemical weapons on the Syrian people.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) appeared on “Face The Nation” on Sept. 1 and was asked, “How would the United States look if the president says I have decided to take military action,  I want Congress to give me authority, Congress does not give that authority?”

Paul answered, “I think it would show that he made a grave mistake when he drew a red line. I think a president should be very careful about red lines he is not going to keep.   But, then again, when you set a red line that was not a good idea and now you are going to adhere to it or show your machismo, I think then you are trying to save face and adding bad policy to bad policy.”

On Sept. 3 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Syria. Paul praised Obama for asking Congress for a resolution to use military force. However, he pressed Secretary of State John Kerry as to whether Obama would still order military action should Congress vote down the resolution.

Kerry said, “The president still has the constitutional authority, and he would be in keeping with the Constitution.”

Paul replied, “I disagree. I do not believe he has the constitutional authority.”

“This power is a congressional power, and it is not an executive power. They didn’t say big war or small war. They didn’t say boots on the ground or no boots on the ground. They said declare war. Ask the people on the ships launching the missiles whether they are involved with war or not. If we do not say that the Constitution applies, if we do not say explicitly we will abide by this vote, you are making a joke of us. You are making us into theater. So we are playing constitutional theater for the president. If this is real, you will abide by the verdict of Congress,” Paul added.  A YouTube video titled “Rand Paul Grills John Kerry: Will Obama Honor Congress’ Vote or Make ‘Constitutional Theater” captured the exchange between  Paul and Kerry.

Paul paraphrased the words of James Madison, the father of the Constitution, who wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1798, “The Constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it.  It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to the legislature.”

Paul agrees with Madison who wrote in 1793, “The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature . . . the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

Obama would be well advised not to cross this constitutional red line, since in poll after poll the American people have indicated they do not want military action in Syria.

Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 4-5 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and from 3-5 p.m. Friday and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.

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