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Wineke: Obama made right decision in consulting Congress on Syria

Published On: Sep 05 2013 08:29:46 PM CDT
Bill Wineke

Was it only yesterday that President Barack Obama’s critics were threatening to impeach him if he ordered a military strike on Syria without congressional approval?

Well, yes. But that was then and this is now. The president confounded his critics, left and right, by calling on Congress to debate the issue. Now, they’re all lining up in front of microphones condemning Obama for being weak and lacking in “leadership” skills.

My favorites are attacks from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who seems golly gee flabbergasted at the president’s leadership incompetence.

Iraq turned out so well for us and for the world.

One reason Obama has trouble convincing the world that Syria is using poisonous gas is that the previous administration -- I do believe Rumsfeld had a job in it -- convinced the world of things that turned out to be just not so.

Personally, I’m not sure what the United States should do in Syria and I’m not sure what Obama wants us to do. In fact, I think that’s one reason he decided to take extra time for the debate.

What I am sure of is that he made the right decision in consulting Congress. Presidents of the United States should not start wars -- especially not wars opposed by a majority of the citizens -- just because they have the title commander-in-chief.

I’m also pretty sure that letting the Syrian government get away with gassing its own citizens would set a precedent I’m not at all sure I want to see set.

One reason Rumsfeld and others are castigating the president is that he said using gas on a big scale would be a “red line” that the United States won’t allow to be crossed without consequences. Recently, he has modified that to say it’s not his “red line” it is the world’s red line.

He’s weaseling out from his own red line, his critics charge.

But he’s right. It is the world’s red line. We either accept gas as a means of warfare or we don’t. Since World War I, we haven’t; except, of course, in Iraq back when Saddam Hussein was considered our friend and not our enemy.

So, I say, bring on the debate. Take it seriously. Insist the administration spell out what it hopes to accomplish and what means might best achieve that goal.

Then -- and I know this won’t happen -- shut up.

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