The grossly obese Syrian officer was coming in the door of the King Khalid Military City exchange while I was coming out. I saw instantly that this was no soldier; this was a thug, a threat only to the unarmed civilians that are his kind’s prey. My eyes fell downward from his cruel face to the piece of flair gracing his olive green fatigues.
“Nice Assad button,” I sneered. Real warriors don’t wear pictures of dictators on their uniform. He glared back at me with his dark, rat eyes, not understanding my words but fully appreciating my contempt. Though Syria was a putative coalition partner, I knew I was staring at an enemy.
Not much has changed since Operation Desert Storm. The Syrian regime’s “soldiers” are still just punks fit only to oppress the defenseless, unable to even hold their own against a ragged band of barely-armed insurgents. But like the vast majority of Americans, I have grave concerns about attacking them.
The President was right to belatedly call for a vote of Congress. Unlike many people who I greatly respect, the Constitution’s carefully-written text appears to me to leave only the power to react to sudden threats with the president. By investing the power to declare war in the Congress, the Constitution places the decision to enter wars of choice squarely with the people’s representatives. As a veteran, I also understand the importance to the troops of knowing that they have voted to support you.
The President must now tell us why we should make the choice for war. And he needs to do it personally by addressing the nation before a joint session of Congress.
There can be no dodging this responsibility, no clever attempts to secure credit in case of success while shifting the blame in case of failure. We are talking about war, and the President is the Commander-In-Chief. As the commander, he – and only he – is solely responsible for everything the military does and does not do.
The toxic atmosphere of suspicion engendered by the President’s radical liberal governing style has left him no well of trust from which to draw. Sadly, but not without cause, the first unspoken thoughts that arose when the President reversed course were that this was some sort of trick designed to saddle his political opponents with the blame for a policy that was already in tatters. That was a natural consequence of five years of political choices by the Administration – when support is suddenly required, don’t expect to instantly receive it from the people you and your mainstream media pals have spent half a decade demonizing.