There is a popular coffee cup that suggests you shouldn’t mistake your Google search for my law degree. The fact is, with appropriate research, most legal questions can be answered without a lawyer, but that assumes you do the right research, and consider the right facts, all without bias. That rarely happens.
Doctors are smart people. But when they do their own research, like Rand Paul, they often reach the wrong conclusions. Rand was quoted as saying that in order for President Trump to act on Syria, he needed congressional approval. Of course, he was referring to the War Powers Act, a statute that no president has ever acknowledge placed a lawful or binding restriction on the president’s war powers. A reaction to the Vietnam War (the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution” not withstanding), the purpose was to prevent the US from being drug into another long-term police action like Korea and Vietnam. It hasn’t worked. We still got mired in Afghanistan and Iraq, we just did it with Congressional approval.
There is a huge difference between a declaration of war – a statement by both political houses of the national legislature that a state of conflict exists between the US and another nation – and a police action taken in defense of liberty or in this case, in defense of humanity. Nothing – absolutely nothing – says that self-defense or hostilities have to wait for Congressional approbation. Consider this ridiculous scenario:
Dec. 7, 1941
Cloyd: Hey, Earl, lookie there, them Jap planes are bombing these here ships.
Earl: By golly Cloyd, you’re right. We need to shoot at them little bastards!
Cloyd: (shocked look) Oh my goodness no, Earl, we can’t do that!
Earl: (dodging bullets) Why the F^&* not?
Cloyd: (pointing cluelessly at the sky) Why, that might make Congress mad. We haven’t declared no war on them boys yet. Rand Paul would be upset! (yeah, I know)
Earl: (diving into a bunker) Are you F%^&* crazy?
And, of course, that’s the question. Imagine if Mr. Trump had gone to Congress. All the Democrats that now say “good job” would have been sticking their fingers in the air, measuring wind speed and direction, and deciding whether to do anything based on polling data, party direction, and their astrologer’s forecast. CNN would have been dispatching Wolf “Baghdad” Blitzer to downtown Damascus, and some damned fool would be lying in the weeds near Knob Noster, Missouri, to reveal the time that the B-2 bombers flew out of Whiteman AFB. In short, the Syrians and the Russians would have been prepared and ready to inflict harm on the US, putting men and materials in danger. No, please, don’t embarrass yourself Mr. Paul, do a little thinking before emoting.
Our National Interest?
Now, that’s not to say that I believe Trump acting was either in our national interest or the best thing we could have done. Sometimes the urge to do “something” winds up having us do the wrong thing. But if we have to spend some effort in defense of humanity (and that’s what this gas attack was, an outrage against humanity), then cruise missiles would be the least offensive option.
Why? Because it didn’t put aircraft in the air in a way that could get them shot down. It did not put ground troops in danger. It was largely symbolic: a statement that if you mess with the bull you get the horns. It was, in fact, a punch in this bully’s nose. I can live with that.
Here’s what I can’t live with. Putting American lives in jeopardy in a civil war that has about 10 different sides and that no one thinks can be won. There simply are no good options. So let’s stop while we’re ahead. Pay attention @POTUS, because your voters are.
Inside Baseball (or Politics)
Now, about 90% of the inside spin in DC is bullshit. So when we see Bannon is at Kushner’s throat, or McMaster is driving McFarland out of the Whitehouse, most of this is just one person trying to be thought of as prescient by reading tea leaves when they can’t even see the damned cup. It’s pure crap. These pundits don’t know shit from apple butter (so be careful if you’re invited for breakfast and they serve biscuits).
But one thing is clear. Mr. Trump needs to consider what he said to his voters about America First. As awful as what happened in Syria was, and it was awful, it does not affect America’s vital national interests. There’s no oil there, there’s only warring islamists and frankly I’d rather let one group of miscreants kill another group of miscreants as force our boys to do it. If ISIS wins, we nuke the joint. If Assad wins, we bide our time and one of these days he meets with an accident. Stuff happens. The world’s an unsafe place.
For the record, Mr. Trump should listen to Ann Coulter. She’s got a handle on this. She knows what she’s talking about, and she’s good at it. If he just paid more attention to her and less to the “OMG It’s AWFUL” crowd, he’d insure his own victory in 2018 and 2020. So @POTUS, follow @AnnCounter on Twitter.