EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

September 8, 2013

Column: Ironies pile up in push for strike on Syria

The ongoing Syria crisis would almost be comical if it weren’t so ironic – and if American blood, treasure and standing in the world were not also at stake.

As President Obama inches toward some sort of allegedly punitive military action against Syria’s President Bashar Assad for his administration’s alleged use of chemical weapons against rebels seeking to remove him from power (and the inevitable civilian collateral damage), the ironies keep piling up.

The first and most blatant is the president’s surprise announcement last week that he would seek the authorization of Congress to strike Syria.

It is refreshing at one level for the president to “agree completely” that the approval of the “people’s representatives” is necessary for him to do or not do anything, although that is yet another irony – more on that in a moment.

But this declaration came after several days of declarations from Secretary of State John Kerry and various other aides to media outlets that the president had the constitutional power to act alone – that he did not need the approval of Congress, and that he intended to act forthwith because the need to punish Syria for its “moral obscenity” was “urgent.”

Now, suddenly, it’s fine to give Assad another couple of weeks to move his weapons and munitions out of harm’s way and to move “volunteer” civilians into harm’s way, so that if the U.S. ever does get around to firing a few missiles at pre-announced targets, there will be plenty of video of the charred remains of innocents slaughtered by the Great Satan.

More likely, as is obvious to numerous observers on both the left and right, this has nothing to do with respect for Congress.

It is once again all about him – the president is looking for political cover. If he gets the endorsement of Congress and something goes wrong, he will point to legislators. If they say no, he will blame Congress in general and Republicans in particular, for tying his hands that he said earlier were not tied.

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