Something to consider

As leaders of many nations agree, the attacks on Paris were an act of war.  Not just against France, but against humanity.  Many nations have tasted the wrath of Muslim extremism; this will continue until we stop it.

We need to relearn proper responses to acts of war.  The Iraq campaign was no example; it was an opportunistic adventure based on lies and different purposes.

Proper response requires that we identify the enemy and his active supporters, pursue them into their homeland and havens, and destroy their ability to continue making war.

Given the hatred in ISIS, I believe the only way to destroy their ability is to kill them, not through criminal cases, but through swift military action.  I’ve long teetered on the brink of working to eliminate the death penalty, but this is no time for improving our justice system.  It’s a time for self-defense in war.

One might hope and expect that all the threatened nations would unite in a response to this act of war.  Russia is acting but, while acting alone, might well see opportunity for empire-building.

What is needed for the U.S. to act?  Congress needs to end its long silence and vote on measures directing and authorizing proper action.  During their silence, Republicans enjoy the luxury of condemning Mr. Obama for whatever he does or doesn’t do.  If he responds without Congressional support, he could be hounded the rest of his life for illegal action.  We shouldn’t expect that of any president.

Jim Burns
Waynesboro

The letter above was published in the Waynesboro, Virginia News Virginian on November 18, 2015.

ANOTHER VIEW OF OBAMA’S POLICY

Let’s try to penetrate political fog, and judge President Obama’s Syria policy by its fruits, not by biased opinions. In simplest terms, these important things have happened, or have been deliberately avoided:

Avoiding action before the August 21 event in which about 1,400 civilians were killed, apparently by chemical weapons, the President avoided a precedent of intervening in a foreign civil war solely because of humanitarian concerns or political favoritism.

Action based on the August 21 incident carries a more selective justification: national and world security threatened by existence of a chemical weapon stockpile in the Middle East, where governments are unstable and vulnerable to terrorist activity.

Mr. Obama’s decision that this threat would justify military action gave Russia, Syria’s ally, high motivation to seek peaceful means of resolving the problem. Intensely collaborating with the U.S., Russia appears to be taking major responsibility, easing the burden on us. Before the President’s decision, Russia had been complacent as the Syrian war went on for years, with casualties mounting to an estimated 100,000. His decision served an important purpose regardless of whether he personally wished for military action.

The President’s decision to request Congressional approval gained time – for the United Nations to verify that chemical weapons were used, and for the Russian initiative to progress to where it could be adopted or rejected. Further out, his decision gave a precedent for returning to the Constitutional requirement that Congress authorize acts of war – a measure more likely to build national unity. He avoided using the controversial War Powers Act that enabled presidents to wage war without Congressional declaration.

Those who charge Mr. Obama with incompetence would have us believe that he did not anticipate the firestorm by both parties in Congress, when asked to actually vote on the subject. It is easier to believe that his purpose matched his achievement, gaining time and observing Constitutional principles.

At each step, Obama’s stance brought benefits.  It’s more believable that he masterminded this relatively benign sequence of events, than that he drifted as a floating cork from one goal to another and missed them all.

Published as a Letter to the Editor by the Waynesboro, VA News Virginian, 9/18/2013.