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Alan E. Harazin: President’s punt on Syria weakens the office

To the editor:

I could not disagree more completely with Don Robinson’s “The power to make war” column (Gazette, Sept. 5). The proposed Syrian military action is not an “act of war.”

Did the strikes that President Clinton ordered in the Balkans constitute war? Was our military involvement in Libya war? Of course not, and in neither case did the commander in chief request congressional input before acting. As far as the 1973 War Powers resolution is concerned, no prior president, Republican or Democrat, has accepted its constitutional validity. We elect a president to make numerous tough calls, many of them involving the military. We do not elect him to “punt” these decisions to 535 publicity-seeking, show-boating, would-be mini-commanders in chief.

President Obama’s decision to ask Congress what he should do in Syria constitutes a damaging blow to the office of the presidency and a horrible political mistake. What does he do if the House turns down the use of force? We cannot have 535 commanders in chief, a certainty classically epitomized by the recent craven non-vote of our newest senator. Robinson properly notes that congressmen are no geniuses; God help us if future commanders in chief feel compelled to ask them what they all think before he does his job.

Alan E. Harazin

Amherst

Related

Don Robinson: What Constitution says about the power to make war

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ASHFIELD — In asking Congress for a resolution before undertaking a punitive strike at Syria, Obama has done a brave and laudable thing. To be sure, Obama’s hands are not clean on consulting Congress before using his war powers. Deadly missile attacks against persons in Yemen, including an American citizen, have been purely executive actions, without Congressional authorization. The Stuxnet … 0

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