Military escalation: U.S. Congress leaders are writing the President a “blank check for war”

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By Rep. Ron Paul
Global Research, January 26, 2016
Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity 24 January 2016

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

American Conservative article: “The Hawks’ Solution to Everything–Throw More Weapons at the Problem”

Posted at American Conservative
November 10, 2014
By Daniel Larson

The Republican foreign policy agenda in the new year promises to be lousy:

Authorizations to send heavy weapons to Ukrainian forces battling pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine and sophisticated arms to moderate opposition rebels in Syria have “languished on the Senate floor” over the past two years because Majority Leader Harry Reid “wouldn’t let them through,” said one senior adviser to a key Republican lawmaker.

Those initiatives “will now go for up-or-down votes,” once Sen. Mitch McConnell assumes the majority leadership post and key committee chairmanships are filled by GOP critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy — such as Sen. John McCain helming the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the adviser said.

Increasing aid to Syria’s rebels is likely to be among the first priorities [bold mine-DL].

None of this is surprising, but it is still remarkable how the Republicans would choose to start off their new Senate majority by confirming so quickly why they can’t be trusted with power. Throwing more weapons at the conflict in Ukraine is worse than useless, since it will encourage the Ukrainian government to fight a war it can’t win and will make the conflict that much harder to resolve. The new Senate majority leader can bring this measure to a vote, but Obama would be a fool to sign anything they send him on this. Sending more arms to the Syrian opposition is more ridiculous than ever in light of Jabhat al-Nusra’s recent capture of weapons that had already provided to “moderate” rebel groups. If the U.S. sends more arms and supplies to the “moderate” opposition, it will likely just be a matter of time before that aid ends up in the wrong hands.

In addition to being wrong on the merits, the Senate GOP is closely identifying itself with deeply unpopular positions. A majority is against arming Syrian rebels now, just as a majority has been against this for the last several years. Americans have also been against sending arms to Ukraine since the early stages of the conflict. Besides being foolish and irresponsible, the hawks’ solution of throwing weapons at every problem that arises overseas has very little popular support.