September 22, 2013

Another View: Obama was right to consult Congress on Syrian intervention

The president should work with the people's representatives before putting lives at risk.


I am astounded by Dan Demeritt's assertion in a recent column, "Obama invites questions about U.S. capacity to act on Syria" (Sept. 15), that neither the American public nor our representatives in Congress should have been granted a say in the decision for or against attacking Syria. 

Mr. Demeritt considers deliberation in such cases to be not only inconvenient but downright "dangerous," since this could produce "domestic political opposition" to the proposed action and thus make it difficult for the administration to carry out its wishes.  Mr. Demeritt's praise for the merits of unfettered executive discretion might be fitting for subjects of an empire, but citizens of a democratic republic ought to find it repugnant. 

To initiate an act of war in the name of the American people without allowing their representatives any voice in the matter is indefensible, and whether President Obama's decision to seek congressional approval before striking Syria was motivated by constitutional scruples or political calculation, it was the right call. Thankfully for all concerned, a diplomatic solution has emerged.

And while the president claimed that, without his threat of unilateral force, the current negotiations would not have taken place, it is equally likely that, had there been no opportunity for the kind of deliberation and expression of public opposition that Mr. Demeritt finds so objectionable, the missiles would have been launched weeks ago, and rather than sitting at the negotiating table today, we would find ourselves asking how we became so deeply entangled in yet another horrific mess.ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Farrington is a resident of Gorham.

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