by Pater Tenebrarum, Acting-Man.com:
Congress Is Asked for Support on Syria, Which Is not Required Anyway
On Saturday, the president decided to ask Congress for a vote in support of a ‘limited strike’ against Syria (whatever that is – as John Glaser notes, promises of ‘limited war’ should be taken with a grain of salt). Since then, the administration has reportedly ‘increased the pressure on Congress’. The always dependable war hawk John McCain is already saying that it is out of the question for Congress to deny the administration’s request. A summary of the associated to and fro can be seen at the WAPO.
Meanwhile, secretary of state John Kerry opines that the president has the right to order a military strike against Syria with or without Congressional approval. That must be due to the famous ‘limited strikes’ footnote to Section 8 of the US constitution. Seriously though, there is the ‘War Powers Resolution‘ of 1973, the constitutionality of which has never been tested. This resolution delimits what types of conflicts the president can engage in without Congressional approval, but it has already been ignored by two presidents (Reagan and Clinton) and has been held to be unconstitutional by every president since it was made law. Its aim was to reduce presidential power following the undeclared Korea and Vietnam wars. The UK government meanwhile has given up on a Syrian strike after its defeat in the House of Commons.
“A day after Barack Obama vowed to put any intervention in Syria to a vote of both the Senate and House of Representatives, Kerry said the administration was confident of winning a motion of the kind that David Cameron unexpectedly lost last week. “We don’t contemplate that the Congress is going to vote no,” Kerry said, but he stressed the president had the right to take action “no matter what Congress does”.
He said the Obama administration’s clear preference was to win a vote in Congress, which could come as early as next week, after politicians return from their summer recess on 9 September. He could “hear the complaints” about presidential abuse had Obama not gone to Congress, and its backing would give any military action greater credibility: “We are stronger as a nation when we act together.” But he added: “America intends to act.”
On Sunday, Britain definitively ruled out any involvement in military strikes against Syria even if further chemical attacks take place.
William Hague, the foreign secretary, said Britain would offer only diplomatic support to its allies. “Parliament has spoken. I don’t think it is realistic to think that we can go back to parliament every week with the same question having received no for an answer.”
So the vote seems to be a pure formality, if Kerry is to be believed. However, the New American doubts that an attack would be constitutional without a Congressional vote in favor.