What started out to be retaliation for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crossing the “red line” has turned into a political hot potato. The president was clueless as to what his response would be when he issued his warning. His pre-announcement that our response would be limited and short in duration left everyone wondering about his sincerity.
When the president said he was not interested in removing Assad, the entire world was stunned. When he passed the ball to Congress, it became obvious the president was still clueless. He claims to have the authority under the War Powers Act to conduct hostilities whatever Congress does. But only he – and not Congress – has the constitutional authority to conduct war. Congress’s only authority is to declare or authorize military action.
It is absurd to watch congressmen engaged in debating the length and severity of any military action. Once you attack a country, you accept the consequences and cannot declare a limit or control retaliatory actions. If Congress is to authorize military action, that is the end of its authority. The president as commander in chief then has the ball, and must then make the hard decisions and suffer the consequences of his actions.