What Obama is asking Congress to authorize

Now that president Obama has decided to refer the Syria issue for Congressional action, while reserving the right to ignore them if they don’t agree to what he wants to do (this is how democracy now operates in the US), here is the text of the Authorization to Use Military Force resolution that president Obama is sending to Congress.

Jack Goldsmith, who was Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush administration, says that such resolutions are usually worded so that the president can interpret it in the broadest possible way but in this case,” there is much more than meets the eye” and that the language is particularly broad and sweeping, allowing the president to do pretty much anything remotely connected to Syria as long as he, and he alone, thinks it is necessary.

First, the proposed AUMF authorizes the President to use force “in connection with” the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war. (It does not limit the President’s use force to the territory of Syria, but rather says that the use of force must have a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian conflict. Activities outside Syria can and certainly do have a connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war.). Second, the use of force must be designed to “prevent or deter the use or proliferation” of WMDs “within, to or from Syria” or (broader yet) to “protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.” Third, the proposed AUMF gives the President final interpretive authority to determine when these criteria are satisfied (“as he determines to be necessary and appropriate”). Fourth, the proposed AUMF contemplates no procedural restrictions on the President’s powers (such as a time limit).

So once again, Congress is asked to give the president a blank check and if they don’t, the administration will claim it has one anyway.

That’s democracy-USA style.


  1. machintelligence says

    Lots of luck getting that through congress. The Republicans will probably allow him the unlimited use of pea shooters and slingshots.
    (I still doubt that they will reach any consensus while Obama is president.)

  2. Trebuchet says

    The Republicans must be salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at this. First, none of them will vote for it, no matter what. They’ll have lots of different reasons, but the only real reason will be “because Obama”. Then when there’s a bad outcome, it’ll all be Obama’s fault no matter whether he uses force or not.

    No bombing, more gas attacks: Obama’s fault.
    Bombing, more gas attacks anyhow: Obama’s fault.
    Bombing collateral damage: Obama’s fault.
    Bombing or no bombing, endless civil war: Obama’s fault
    Bombing or no bombing, Assad prevails: Obama’s fault
    Bombing or no bombing, rebels win and an Islamist government comes into power: Obama’s fault.

    Of course, if Assad is deposed and a progressive secular government develops, Obama will have had nothing to with it. There’s little to no chance of that, of course.

  3. kyoseki says

    I just love that the politicians are using phrases like “if we don’t carry through with our threat, we’ll lose credibility”

    … as though America has any international credibility left after the Curveball WMD nonsense used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

  4. Nick Gotts says

    In this context, “credibility” means carrying out your threats, not truth-telling about facts or motivations, so it’s an analytic truth that if you don’t carry out your threats, you lose credibility.

  5. Jockaira says

    Another Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, except that the wording is vague enough to include almost anything the President desires. It’s also vague enough that certain members of Congress can always say that Obama exceeded his authority or didn’t use enough of it, if for some inexplicable reason intended actions don’t have intended results.

    But at least, it gives Obama legal covering and parcels out some of the blame for the upcoming fiasco to Congress.

  6. 2up2down2furious says

    I have several friends and acquaintances who have assured me that any strike on Syria will be brief, surgical, and contained. I’ve been encouraging them to read the proposed AUMF– it’s so broad that, given the UK’s decision to allow its companies to sell potassium fluoride and sodium fluoride to Assad, the President would have the authority to order a ground invasion of England on the basis that it has a very real connection to chemical weapons. Such a thing would never actually happen, of course, but that’s how disturbingly broad the proposal is.

  7. invivoMark says

    Nah, if a progressive secular government develops, Obama will be blamed for bringing “socialism” to the Middle East.

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