For the first time, a US president has classified the legal justification for taking publicly acknowledged actions


Just the USA?

Anyway, we used to have one, the Mother’s Movement.


Did I say that?

The Oz major parties unhesitatingly send our soldiers to war whenever the USA tells them to.

The local party that I support consistently opposes those wars.


We have a Green party too. Unfortunately, they also oppose war with disease.

I think that a position that we should only go to war after a case is made to the elected representatives of the people is a very different position than that we can go to war whenever the President feels like it. I think being critical of the legislators who are basing their criticism on the latter is counterproductive.

The position that war is essentially evil and that it is never justified is a position with substantial merits, but if we are interested in real world outcomes it doesn’t do any good to ignore the fact that it is very much a fringe position almost everywhere.


The claim is not that this is the first US bombing, or the first bombing without Congressional approval. It’s that this is the first time that a US President has classified their justification for doing so.

Which is, to me, a fairly trivial distinction. I really don’t give a fuck whether or not US aggression is done in a way that satisfies American ideals of political decorum. The victims are just as dead either way.

This had nothing to do with preventing the killing of innocent people. The USA and Saudis are currently engaged in a genocidal war on Yemen, and the US has been killing Syrian civilians for years.



President Obama gave a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August [2013] in which he announced that he would seek authorization from Congress before using American military forces to intervene in the Syrian civil war.[33][34] In the speech, he announced that he was “prepared to give that order,” referring to ordering a strike on Syria.[33] Obama argued that it was necessary to intervene because the recent chemical weapons attack in Syria “risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemicals weapons” and that it put U.S. regional allies that share a border with Syria in danger.[35] In his speech, Obama also said that, “while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course**, and our actions will be even more effective.”[35] Introduction of S.J. Res. 21 in the Senate soon followed.

—Wikipedia: Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons (Emphasis added).

S.J. Res. 21 never made it to a floor vote, as Syria subsequently accepted a joint US/Russian proposal to completely eliminate its chemical-weapons arsenal and production facilities, which process was (suppposedly) completed in 2014.

Every presidential administration since at least Clinton has claimed the right to order attacks like these without consulting Congress; and insisted that any consultation with Congress was simply a courtesy.

I’ve no idea why the Trumpster would classify such an opinion, since everyone already knows what the underlying legal claims would be. Until those claims are tested in court, they’re still just claims, but considering the broad support for the present actions, I doubt this will be the test case.



Since forever, I think. Panama and Somalia with Bush 1. Granada and Libya with Reagan. And so on. Not sure about Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, but Nixon invaded Cambodia. LBJ had congressional authorization for Vietnam and that blotted out the sun for him. Kennedy launched a crypto invasion of Cuba that blew up in his face. Eisenhower is the one who started filling Vietnam with American advisers. And so on.


To be clear, are you saying you believe a US president that locks Congress out of the information loop is no more dangerous to the world than one that that consults them? Put quantitatively, do you think the same number of deaths are likely to result either way whether or not the president inches closer to being a dictator?

  1. Obama’s strikes on Syria were also done without Congressional approval.

  2. So far, Trump has continued Obama’s wars and launched two largely ineffective missile strikes at Syria. By US Presidential standards, that’s better than average. He hasn’t invaded anywhere new yet.

  3. The “consulation” with Congress is largely a formality. The request to Congress is a lawyer- and speechwriter-drafted boilerplate “we’re defending America/Freedom” sort of thing. The Congresscritters will then vote in accord with their personal political interests, with minimal regard for the Presidential justification.

  4. The judgement and ethics of the Congressional majority are only marginally superior to the President’s.

He’s likely to get aggressive on his way to dictatorhood; I expect an invasion of somewhere shortly before the midterms. He’s unlikely to last long enough for world conquest; he’s old and in poor health. His successor may be keen on the idea, though.

OTOH, I don’t think that this situation would be substantially altered by getting the GOP Congress to rubber stamp his wars. Trump pushing for autocracy is already in motion, and Congress ain’t going to stop him.

That’s up to the people.


I never viewed Trump as the dictator, just another rung on the ladder that will result in one. It’s the marginal steps that take us there. Each one may be trivial, but they add up to nontrivial shifts.

While we’re getting an object lesson in why a Congress that doesn’t check Executive power is worse than useless, each precedent of the ever accumulating Executive power adds, however incrementally, to the march to dictatorship, even the largely symbolic ones. As such, I’m less dismissive of the symbolic push-back from Congressional Dems, though I do think they’re weak and inadequate.

Presidents have been pushing toward autocracy in earnest for 17 years, and in smaller ways for long before that.

If you’ve given up on our representative democracy and you believe protest is pointless (if that’s what you mean by the cryptic term hashtag resistance), what action do you think we can take to restore the rule of law?

What’s strange to me is that you’ve been as active as any of us in protesting these excesses through the internet - a contribution for which I’m grateful BTW - so I don’t understand why you would do that if you think it’s completely useless. Again, I don’t think it’s completely useless and don’t wish to discourage you. But I’m having trouble parsing your scathing dismissal of it.


Mission Accomplished!


Well, looking at the current crop in Congress (and Senate) I simply fail to see how consulting them would make one iota of difference.


“The President addressed a joint session of Congress yesterday. He said he wasn’t gonna back down on the blockade. I don’t know which was scarier, the speech or the Congress cheering it. He evoked Lincoln. Whenever a president is gonna get us into serious trouble, they always use Lincoln. I honestly don’t know if we’re gonna be at war or not - it’s terrifying to hope that the Russians are less crazy than we are, when they are clearly crazy.”


But it sets a precedent that could be used against a Democratic controlled Congress after the mid-terms, and on into the future. Again, it’s a small step, but it’s still a step in the wrong direction.


Again, alas…


Our public servants should have no secrets beyond extremely short term tactical needs. They work for us, we need to know how to evaluate their jobs.


Oh, why do I bother. American articles ONLY argue about whether killing foreigners has been decided upon legally by American laws. NEVER whether it strikes other countries as legal. I’ve never seen one that ended “And after Congress has declared war, we must of course go to the United Nations Security Council for permission to attack as a police action, because we signed a treaty in 1948 that we ourselves mostly wrote to make aggressive war illegal. We prosecuted it as such at Nuremberg and attacked Iraq with 35 other nations after the Security Council authorized it because they broke that same provision in the Treaty.”

I’m not saying this would govern America’s decision, but at least America’s generally left-wing news sources could MENTION the legal facts about all this.


That is the most amusing thing I have read today.
And I’ve been idly leafing through this while having afternoon tea.


Glad I could give you a smile, but I guess I bite on asking what was so amusing. Calling BoingBoing “generally left-wing”? I just meant “left of centre at all”.


Er - wait - did we declare war or order a strike? I mean we and other countries have made strikes like this in conflict zones with out actually declaring war. Obama ordered strikes, did he require a secret memo too?