Somin on President's Proposal to Attack in Syria

Despite the president's assurances that he wants only a limited air attack on Syria, his proposed authorization allows a great deal of latitude and very little in the way of limitations, something Professor Ilya Somin says could be significant should U.S. military intervention go farther that what is currently suggested.

"These details may not matter much if all the president intends is a modest shot across the bow, as he suggested a few days ago," Somin explains. "But they could be significant if U.S. military intervention goes beyond that -- including if it ends up expanding farther than the president may have originally intended."

"It would likely allow him to use force against Syrian rebels as well as the Assad regime, if it seems possible that the former have obtained chemical weapons or are likely to do so," Somin observes.

Obama's proposal seeks broad war power despite vow of limits, McClatchey Newspapers, September 1, 2013. By Michael Doyle.

"The proposed resolution gives Obama a go-ahead to use the military as he 'determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria.' Specifically, the president could act to 'prevent or deter the use or proliferation' of the weapons or to 'protect the United States and its allies and partners' from the weapons."

"Tellingly, University of Texas Law School Professor Robert Chesney said in an interview, Obama’s proposed authorization did not include a sunset date. Chesney suggested that 'if the administration is serious about wanting to act in such a truly narrow, time-limited way,' then a sunset measure could be useful."

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