Goebbels Blushes. Meet Time’s Jay Newton-Small

Yes, yes, I went Nazi, I lose. Whatever.

There’s simply no other way to read this post by Time’s Jay Newton-Small as anything other than propaganda in support of  Obama administration’s unilateral decision to go to war without congressional approval.

Mr. Newton-Small’s “6 Ways Syria 2013 Isn’t Iraq 2003” is nothing more than a ham-handed attempt to absolve Barack Obama from fulfilling his constitutional obligations like George W. Bush did.

Point 1 boils down the idea that Syria, unlike Iraq isn’t a big deal because Obama, through his spokesman, says this isn’t about “regime change”.  I’d remind Mr. Newtown-Small that Libya, another unilateral Obama war, wasn’t about “regime change”. Until is was. And when it became clear to everyone including the French (more about their Absolute Moral Authority(tm) in a second), Obama refused to acknowledge that.

It’s touching that Mr. Newton-Small is so credulous when it comes to the words of his former colleague at Time, but that’s simply not good enough for some of us.

Difference number 2 according to Mr. GoeNewton-Small is that Syria will be “a limited engagement”. Again, all we have is the word of the administration’s spokesman for that. War is a funny thing, it’s not as easily stopped as it is started. I’m not surprised that Mr. Newton-Small is unfamiliar will one of the basic principles of war, “the enemy gets a vote”.

It’s not hard to build many realistic scenarios in which Obama’s “hopes” of a days long, not weeks long war morphs into something much, much more serious and costly.

I’m going to combine differences 3 & 4 into one point for my purposes.

Mr. Newton-Small argues that approval of the Arab-League and France for intervention in Syria give Obama’s War a patina of legitimacy America’s war in Iraq lack.

Note Syria is “Obama’s War” and Iraq is “America’s” in my telling of it. That’s because the only legitimacy an American military action requires is the consent of the governed as expressed through their legitimately selected representatives. France, the Arab League and the UN simply don’t matter.

Is it nice to have allies? Sure. But let’s not pretend we didn’t have them in Iraq.

But Mr. Newton-Small isn’t talking about the practical necessity of allies, politically or militarily, he’s arguing that France and the Arab League hold a moral veto over US actions.

And finally we come to the nub of the matter in difference number 6. Apparently in Mr. Newton-Small’s reading of the Constitution the war making power vested in Congress is trumped by certain verbal incantations of the President’s press secretary.

When asked, Carney  on Tuesday said Syria poses a “significant challenge to or threat to the United States’ national security interests.” The language is important, as the president must seek permission from Congress to go to war unless the U.S. is imminently threatened.

I’m not sure what Mr. Newton-Small thinks Carney was here was so important. If in Mr. Newton-Smith’s version of things an “imminent threat” allows for unilateral and immediate action without Congress so Obama is in the clear, there’s a small problem. Carney called Syria a “threat” not an imminent one. If a President can launch a war whenever there’s a “significant challenge or threat” then Congress’ power to declare war is meaningless. Every country in the world would meet those standards at some point. I’m also interested in the notion that a President’s press secretary’s interpretation of the Constitution and relevant statutes is all powerful and binding.

But that’s just a warm-up for Mr. Newton-Small’s heroic defense of Barack Obama. You see there could be a debate, should Mr. Obama deign to allow it.

Maybe Obama should allow the debate in Congress. It’d be a headache, for sure, and the posturing could last longer than the intervention itself, but it might also reassure nervous members like Lee who worry Obama is getting the U.S. into another decade-long war in the Middle East. And given U.S. polls showing huge opposition to engagement in Syria, it might help assuage the American public as well.

“Allow the debate in Congress”? I’m very curious about Mr. Newton-Small’s understanding of the US Constitution that apparently require presidential assent to congressional debates. Certainly Obama could moot the debate by launching an illegal war before Congress rouses itself to action but the notion that Obama can “allow” and by implication “disallow” congressional debate is stunning.

Of course when you act as nothing more than a propagandist for a power grabbing executive, that is the kind of nonsense you wind up writing.

About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on August 28, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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