The lessons from last weekend’s strike on Syria by the United States of America and two of its allies do not bode well for the future of democracy or the future of peace, says Inder Comar.
By Inder Comar
But they must be confronted, and dealt with, in order to create a better future.
Here are four lessons to take from the Syria strike:
Lesson One: Dictatorial Power
The Syria strike underscores that the powers of the Presidency, in matters of foreign affairs, are now those of a dictator.
President Trump, like his forebears, swept aside tepid concern that Congress had to weigh in on the legitimacy of any strike against a foreign power.
Instead, and like his predecessors, the President has taken a broad, Caesar-like view of his powers, marshaling American military might as a unitary actor, without any scrutiny.
The most that a few senators and members of Congress could do in the run up to the attack was raise tepid, half-hearted questions over Twitter about the need for Congress to authorize an act of war, as the Constitution says.
That members of the most powerful legislative body in the world could do nothing other than tweet in the face of missile strikes speaks for itself.
As noted in the Saleh v. Bush case, the Judiciary will not scrutinize executive conduct, either, because the President is presumed as acting in the best interests of the nation — even when committing heinous international crimes.
The Legislative and the Judicial branches have walked away from their constitutional roles, and are declining any mandate to oversee the Executive branch in matters of war.
Checks and balances are swept away. And the strike now sets further precedent for unilateral executive authority to attack or invade another country based. It is one person, and one person alone, who commands American military might, without scrutiny or later accountability.
Lesson Two: Death of Collective Security