April 7, 2017

"I can imagine the smile on Trump administration officials’ faces when they figured out that they would both enforce a red line that Obama wouldn’t and rely on Obama administration legal thinking to provide cover for doing so."

Writes lawprof Jack Goldsmith in "The Constitutionality of the Syria Strike Through the Eyes of OLC (and the Obama Administration)."
President Obama’s aborted threat to intervene in Syria in 2013 has led many to forgot that the administration believed it had the domestic constitutional authority to intervene without congressional authorization. Even when President Obama announced that he would seek congressional authorization for the strike, he insisted that “I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization.”... As Charlie Savage reported [in the NYT in 2013]:
In recent weeks, administration lawyers decided that it was within Mr. Obama’s constitutional authority to carry out a strike on Syria as well, even without permission from Congress or the Security Council, because of the “important national interests” of limiting regional instability and of enforcing the norm against using chemical weapons, as [Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel,] said.

49 comments:

tim maguire said...

I'm still trying to decide what I think, but given how much presidents do without going to congress, it's hard to see this as a violation.

Matthew Sablan said...

It is the sort of master stroke, but simplistic, move that TV politicians do.

I may not yet be sure what I think about the action, but the way it was put together and handled was well done, especially given that some of what the Trump White House has done has been amateur hour.

Relying on the last president's words and arguments to serve as precedent for what you want to do is smart. Whether the actual results of the smart execution will be what we want, well, that we won't know for some time.

Laslo Spatula said...

Everyone is missing the obvious scene behind the Curtain.

Israel was worried about Syria giving chemical weapons to Hezbollah.

Jared Kushner is Jewish.

Connect the dots, people.

I am Laslo.

Mike said...

Obama paved the way for many things. So far Trump has shown restraint and wisdom in making use of Obama's precedents. So far.

Laslo Spatula said...

Ivanka has pushed for Child Care.

Assad gassed Children.

Connect the dots, people.

I am Laslo.

MayBee said...

Ha! I had friends on Facebook complaining that Obama wasn't allowed to bomb anywhere, and then Trump came along and just did it, and this is just typical of the terrible way Obama was treated when he was President.

exhelodrvr1 said...

And Trump's Swedish comments appear ever more prescient.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

An unforced error. Like Target stores injecting itself into the transsexual toilet issue - but orders of magnitude more weighty. Trump owns the Mideast now, to a far greater extent than he did two days ago. Enough to do with domestic issues. Shoulda, coulda, sat that one out.

buwaya said...

Its a mess of course.
I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not.
The best argument for it that I can see is that the use of chemical weapons should be discouraged, else everyone will begin using them. Of course, IRL, based on experience so far, chemical weapons dont seem to have been any more horrible than conventional ones. They havent really been mass-killers, the human pesticide of the worst case scenarios.

Achilles said...

It is a good thing nobody is talking about how the Satin gas got to Syria in the first place.

"Oh you mean THOSE WMD's..."

Achilles said...

Satin gas...

Some autocorrects are worse than others

JAORE said...

It was also a message to the Norks.

Whether they receive it correctly or act rationally upon it is anyone's guess.

Kevin said...

The real target of those Tomahawks was North Korea. It will take more time for that BDA to be available.

Daniel Jackson said...

Regardless, it's a different game now. The US is looking for an entry port to this conflict; Yemen is out; but, rockets'-red-glare still work. Especially with a range of 1000 miles.

The Russians say less than thirty hit the target. If the others were taken out by SAMS, what does that say about those defenses? Perhaps Iran should rethink its defenses.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

Oh, and don't forget them anticipating the inevitable polling bump re US blowing up stuff in other countries--especially stuff belonging to people who gas babies.

Lots of smiles.

AReasonableMan said...

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...
Oh, and don't forget them anticipating the inevitable polling bump re US blowing up stuff in other countries


With hypocrisy this thick I wouldn't bet on much of a bounce.

Mike said...

Satin Gas? I used to listen to bootleg tapes of them back in the late 80s. I thought Klaatu was better at the genre, but then I also thought they might be the Beatles in disguise.

Mike said...

What is hypocritical about this limited projection of American power, ARM? Really, I don't see it. Since you have a decidedly different POV I am asking in good faith, where has Trump been hypocritical in what he's done?

Meade said...

AReasonableMan said...
"3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...
Oh, and don't forget them anticipating the inevitable polling bump re US blowing up stuff in other countries

With hypocrisy this thick I wouldn't bet on much of a bounce."

"Will Trump fulfill all of Hillary’s campaign promises or just this one?"

AReasonableMan said...

Mike said...
What is hypocritical about this limited projection of American power, ARM?


The hypocrisy on Trump's part is self-evident. On your part, just imagine yourself saying, "Although President Hillary Clinton has only been in office for less than three months I fully support this military attack on Syria thereby starting yet another direct conflict with a middle east country and rendering all my previously stated strategy inoperative".

Hard to do, isn't?

Yancey Ward said...

I don't for a second believe the story about the gas attack- it literally makes no sense to me. I think it was either faked, most likely, or carried out by the anti-Assad rebels.

AReasonableMan said...

There is also Republican hypocrisy:

"Republicans that were definitively against any action when 1,400 were killed with Sarin under President Obama are suddenly ready to join Trump in weapons-grade flip-flops now that “a win” is so desperately needed."

TreeJoe said...

Yancey Ward said, "I don't for a second believe the story about the gas attack- it literally makes no sense to me. I think it was either faked, most likely, or carried out by the anti-Assad rebels."

So it was faked by Syrians and the U.S. government who tracked the aircraft which delivered the chemical munitions and recorded them back to base - knowing that they dropped bombs at the same time this chemical attack occurred/was staged?

TreeJoe said...

P.s. You have to know the target. Supposedly it was a hospital, which most hospitals in Syria have moved underground/into caves due to the sheer number of attacks on them. The best way to attack such a structure from a bombing-perspective is through specifically designed munitions or chemical weapons.

Inga said...

Let us not forget how much Trump admired Putin. Too bad it took this to open his eyes.

John said...

My first thought on hearing the news was to look at a map to see how far the strike was from Homs. Homs is like pipeline central with many oil and gas pipelines converging there.

Turns out that the airbase is pretty close to Homs and in the Homs administrative district. (Like a county?)

Hard to tell exactly from the scale of this map but the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syrian (Russian backed) and Qutar-Turkey Pipeline (US backed), both moving natural gas to Europe seem to cross nearby. The Russian pipeline seems to go straight through Homs.

https://www.middleeastobserver.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/syria-qatar-pipeline-4-iran-iraq-syria-pipeline1.jpg

Here's another map showing all the major Syrian pipelines:

http://s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibtimes.com/files/styles/embed/public/2014/09/24/syria_map.png

John Henry

Bill Peschel said...

Diplomacy on a national scale always boils down to this: "Or what?"

All this kumbaya talk about getting together and talking this out is sheer bullshit. Diplomacy is about power. It is about the ability to project power.

"Or what?"

Trump just proved "or what" meant to him. Other nations will take that into account.

Think of it this way: If the CIA had better aim back before 1963, Cuba would have been spared a half century of Castro.

Gadaffi became much more reasonable after Reagan bombed one of his residences.

"Or what?"

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Inga, everyone cozied up to Putin. Dubya did. Obama did, with a memorable assist from SoS HRC. Why not Trump? He's the first President to show a little spine, at that.

Inga said...

Yancy Ward said...
"I don't for a second believe the story about the gas attack- it literally makes no sense to me. I think it was either faked, most likely, or carried out by the anti-Assad rebels."
------------------------
Funny stuff. I'm thinking that Kuschner and some other sane people talked some sense into Trump. That and his low approval ratings.
------------------------
"Even while the media was assaulting us with heartbreaking images of Syrian children either dead or fighting for breath, some of Trump’s most faithful backers had already revved up the conspiracy mill and were pumping out their theories faster than their followers could keep up.

These were the alt-right nutcases that made Donald Trump during the run up to the election. They went from being just random internet kooks to actual engines of policy, promoting Trump’s every crazed, barely intelligible speech on the campaign trail.

And Trump ate it up.

Trump is no stranger to pushing conspiracy theories, whether it be his birther theories about Barack Obama or his oh-so-casual promotion of the idea that Ted Cruz’s dad was somehow connected to Lee Harvey Oswald and President Kennedy’s assassination.

Make no mistake, these are his people.

And now his people are losing their collective minds.

Even before last night’s strike, the usual suspects began a furious “false flag” push, signaling that Assad was not to blame for the deadly gas attack, but that either it was staged by the “fake media,” or Syrian rebels had launched the attack, themselves.

Alex Jones, the rabid Trump-apologist and founder of unhinged conspiracy site, InfoWars, began beating the drum on Wednesday, implicating George Soros-funded groups for staging the gas attack.


Redstate

Inga said...

"Inga, everyone cozied up to Putin. Dubya did. Obama did, with a memorable assist from SoS HRC. Why not Trump? He's the first President to show a little spine, at that."
-------------

But no one did it to the extent that Trump did. I could go and dig up all the glowing compliments Trump gave Putin over the last several years. Those aren't just going to disappear down the memory hole.

Kevin said...

Standard response: just because Obama or Hillary did it doesn't mean Trump didn't do it much much worse!

Yes, the bold is required...

Kevin said...

You know what Trump didn't do? He didn't send his SECSTATE out to tell the world that Syria definitely didn't have any more chemical weapons due to his most outstanding diplomacy.

Nope, Trump didn't fall for that one.

Robert Cook said...

"I'm still trying to decide what I think, but given how much presidents do without going to congress, it's hard to see this as a violation."

Actually, given how often Presidents act without going to Congress, it's hard not to see that our Presidents are largely lawless and behave far outside the bounds placed on them by the Constitution.

(Of course, this action would have required UN Security Council approval; Congressional approval alone wouldn't cut it.)

Robert Cook said...

"So it was faked by Syrians and the U.S. government who tracked the aircraft which delivered the chemical munitions and recorded them back to base...."

Do you know any of the above is true?

Robert Cook said...

"Let us not forget how much Trump admired Putin. Too bad it took this to open his eyes."

Do we know Trump "admired" Putin? Perhaps he just saw that it is better to nourish diplomatic relations with him than to cast him as Satan incarnate with whom no diplomatic relations are desirable or possible. Is it better to avoid war with a powerful opponent (who has been and could still be our ally) or to speak and act so as to make war more likely?

I guess Trump has been worn down and coerced to comply with the deep state operatives in Washington who were otherwise determined to bring him down by one means or another.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Cook - do you know it to be false? How?

OGWiseman said...

1) So it just doesn't matter at all that Trump is repeatedly on record as saying that it would be a huge mistake for Obama to do this exact thing in a nearly identical situation, a short time ago? That's just a non-consideration?

2) I don't know enough about Syria to make an educated judgment about what bombing is likely to accomplish. I do know that it's a really pathetic statement about US domestic policy that one of our only areas of real bipartisan agreement is "let's drop lots of bombs".

3) This strikes me as the first major step towards Trump becoming a cuckservative, in the truest alt-right sense of just giving up and taking the path of least resistance rather than hewing to isolationist, America-First principles when things get tough. In other words, this was not Steve Bannon's idea.

Achilles said...

Inga said...

But no one did it to the extent that Trump did. I could go and dig up all the glowing compliments Trump gave Putin over the last several years. Those aren't just going to disappear down the memory hole.

You are just dumb. Beginning to think you are a moby or a fake. Nobody is this dumb.

khesanh0802 said...

@Inga 2:04 Did you read that before you posted it? Gobbledygook!

khesanh0802 said...

@ARM Just a reminder that we have an announced 500 troops in Syria. That decision was made by Obama. We have been directly involved there for well over a year. Trump's move did nothing to increase our direct involvement.

It would be nice if you gave a reference for your quotes. It's hard to accept your info without a reference of some sort to check.

AReasonableMan said...

khesanh0802 said...
Trump's move did nothing to increase our direct involvement.


Obviously the Russians do not see things this way, and their opinion is of significantly more importance than your musings on the topic.

More quagmire. And, as someone else pointed out, now Trump 'owns' Syria in a way that he didn't 24 hours ago.

Achilles said...

khesanh0802 said...
@ARM Just a reminder that we have an announced 500 troops in Syria. That decision was made by Obama. We have been directly involved there for well over a year. Trump's move did nothing to increase our direct involvement.

There needs to be some sort of end game here. I vote for eliminating the Syrian government, taking their military equipment, and giving Syria to Russia while we train some Iraqi's to fly the Syrian planes in training missions over ISIS territory.

In exchange for Syria Russia needs to stop supporting Iran.

Inga said...

Achilles is unfit for any leadership position due to his extremism. Good thing he isn't in any.

exhelodrvr1 said...

It is appearing that the Obama Admin knew that Syria still had chemical weapons, and lied when they said that they had gotten rid of all of them.

Danno said...

Trump just employed larger drones than Obama would have.

grackle said...

I could go and dig up all the glowing compliments Trump gave Putin over the last several years. Those aren't just going to disappear down the memory hole.

For sure, you can dig them up – but Trump will just Tomahawk them.

If I were Trump:

Aside from vaporizing Assad’s air force if he does another gassing, I would let them fight it out. Obama’s bullshit fucked everything up in Syria beyond immediate repair. I would provide arms and encouragement if an entity could be found in the Syrian hellhole that was a trustworthy American ally. Admittedly, there’s small chance of THAT. But I would endeavor not to spend a lot of treasure or put many American soldiers’ lives in jeopardy in any supportive effort.

I might propose “safe zones” and offer to help fund refugee centers, which should be located in Syria or as close as possible to Syria – NOT in Europe, or God help us – in America.

Sooner or later someone will emerge as winner – probably Assad. I’m thinking that Assad, cruel as he is, can still be dealt with. He’s not a religious fanatic like the Islamic nutcases in Iran; he’s merely ruthless – not unhinged.

Russia is firmly in the Middle East and won’t easily be removed with anything like previous strategies – which have been mostly regime changes and coups. I wonder – could Trump possibly steal Iran’s client state? Could Trump offer Assad more than Iran or Russia could?

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"It is appearing that the Obama Admin knew that Syria still had chemical weapons, and lied when they said that they had gotten rid of all of them."

That'll add time to their sentences re crimes against America. Of course, they're all getting life sentences already so this new crime means that they'll all be put into solitary until they transfer to eternal damnation via Satan. And, it goes w/o saying that now they're one stolen pen from the office away from a capital crime, and a sooner deliver date re damnation.

antiphone said...

If I were Trump:


If I were the Donald,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were the Donald Trump.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

I'd build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show.

I'd fill my yard with chicks and turkeys and geese and ducks
For the town to see and hear.
And each loud "cheep" and "swaqwk" and "honk" and "quack"
Would land like a trumpet on the ear,

Robert Cook said...

"@Cook - do you know it to be false? How?"

I don't know it to be false, but until they can prove it's true, it remains merely an allegation. As long as it remains merely an allegation--which is all it remains even at this moment--they have no basis to justify even the intent to bomb Syria. (How quickly we forget our historical proclivity for asserting allegations as pretexts for mounting military actions that later prove to have been unjustified when the allegations are proven false.)

Once having proof sufficient to legitimately form intent, the UN Security Council must approve our intended act. Absent that, our attack remains a war crime, (even if it was Assad who used the gas). But, at this point, we have no proof he did it, so there was no valid basis even to form the intent, much less to go to the UN Security council.

Once again, we have committed a war crime.