Do Americans want an all-powerful president or democracy? We can’t have both. The whole point of our revolution was to prevent power from concentrating in the hands of a single person. The break from England was incidental. Very intentionally Congress, not the executive, was given the responsibility to declare war. That a president would even contemplate unilaterally declaring war is a sign of the weakness of our democracy, not our military. Fortunately, the British parliament forced our president to respect our Constitution. We should be thankful but embarrassed that we needed this help.
We hope our Congress will be careful in declaring war. They should remember that every war starts with a blizzard of lies. They should consider that the use of gas made no strategic sense from Assad’s perspective but greatly aided the rebels’ appeal for international help. They should keep in mind that the Middle East is a sticky wicket and that there are some things that nothing, including cruise missiles, can fix. Someone makes money when those missiles are fired. Someone else dies. There are few opportunities for U-turns on the road to war. Maybe we should demonstrate the strength of our democracy by taking this one.