The Least that Obama Should Do

I would oppose the use of military force by the U.S. against Syria no matter the process that the administration uses to justify/initiate any act of war.  It simply isn’t in the national interest for the U.S. to get involved in a civil conflict such as this one.  But even if you think it is important for the U.S. to intervene, doesn’t it make sense that President Obama should – at the least – be consulting with Congress and seeking its approval.  There is absolutely no rush to use force.  No one is suggesting that the U.S. is in any imminent danger of being attacked by Syria and thus there are no speed considerations like in actual national defense.  Moreover, nothing I’ve read in the papers suggests that the Syrian opposition is about to collapse (assuming that the U.S. has an interest in keeping the opposition alive).  So what is the rush?  Didn’t the Founders specifically empower Congress in this area so that, among other things, a reasonable discussion of the issue could be had by our representatives (and through the discussion, a wiser policy formed)?

7 thoughts on “The Least that Obama Should Do

  1. I’d also ask you, Erik, to consider the medium to long-term costs if the US does intervene, both for America and for everyone else involved (if you are going to be a good consequentialist).

  2. I totally agree with this point of view. I would go so far as to hope that we could have a discussion about the right of the US asa sovereign nation to intervene in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation and to oppose the legitimate regime simply because we do not like the way that it behaves. This might help us in the future as well as in the current situation especially if we can develop a consensus in support of nonintervention. .

  3. I think you are right, Grover Cleveland. I do not necessarily support intervention in Syria. However, the cost on the other side of the ledger is human lives. I wouldn’t rule out that number as the killing certainly has not followed a linear function this far. Also, I am not sure what the difference would be between another 10,000 or 30,000- it would seem to be immaterial according to your argument.

  4. Short of genocide, I would rule out interventions for largely other-regarding interests. The US government has no moral obligation to protect those non-citizens living outside the boundaries of the US.

  5. The only argument that makes sense to me as justification for intervening is that Syria’s use of chemical weapons poses a serious and imminent threat to the United States, either directly or through proliferation to our terrorist enemies. But no one is making that argument. The weakest argument is the one the administration is making, namely that the use of chemical weapons crossed some made up red line of heinousness. It’s implied then that the 100,000+ people killed by conventional bullets and bombs do not matter.

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