Email letters, September 2,  2013

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By delaying punitive strikes in Syria until Congress reconvenes, President Obama has placed the onus on 535 would-be military and/or foreign policy “experts” to expose their respective renditions of America’s “national interest”.  While military adventurism “by committee” is inherently suspect, so too is our too-toxic partisan political environment.  So, President Obama expressly reaffirmed his constitutional prerogative as Commander-in-Chief to act unilaterally and/or contrary to Congressional consensus—if he so decides.

The moral rationale for punishing the Assad regime’s use of sarin begs the question of why gassing one’s own population is morally more reprehensible than using conventional weapons.  Arguably, genocidal killing with nerve agents is more “humane” (but certain) than indiscriminately killing with bombs and/or bullets (even if some are un-maimed).

The legal question is also problematic, because the Geneva Convention’s protocol (1925) does not prohibit Syria’s use of “asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gasses” within its own borders in a civil conflict.

The unequivocally prohibiitve Chemical Weapons Convention (1993) is now considered “customary international law”—which is presumptively enforceable by the international community (even though Syria has never ratified it).

International legal and moral legitimacy – achieveable only through “due process” – were forfeited by Bush/Cheney in 2002, who hubristicallly ignored Colin Powell’s advice and cynically short-circuited U.N. inspectors while citing deliberately skewed “intelligence”.  President Obama isn’t repeating that “high crime”. 

In 2002, the only unimpeachably legitimate grounds for invading Iraq were Saddam’s violations of 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions—for the U.N. (not just us) to enforce.
Today, the Arab League’s “call for action” may trump Russia’s and/or China’s veto.

Meanwhile, Rand Paul has exposed his application of “libertarianism” to international relations by effectively siding with genocide – because Assad is “protecting Christians” and opposing Al-Qaeda (just as we abrogated international accords in Viet Nam to support Diem, who was aiding Catholics, killing Buddhists, and “fighting communism”)!

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