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Power To War

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver a statement after meeting with the National Security Council at the State Department in Washington, D.C. February 25, 2016. Obama on Thursday expressed confidence that the United States would prevail in its fight against the Islamic State, but said that an end to the conflict in Syria would be key to dismantling the group. Next to the president U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (R). REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX28MXM

Is anyone reading this? I mean, are people aware that this is happening? That the White House is trying to legitimize its authority to wage war without the approval of Congress, bypassing the War Powers Resolution?

It sounds awful, but let’s not scream bloody murder just yet. Consider the terrible but perhaps valid in a cynical kind of way flip side. There may be merit in the notion of empire — and a need to embrace the reality of it — especially in times like these. The rules of the previous century are becoming increasingly obsolete. The EU is floundering, old alliances are creaking. Political holy grails such as Human Rights are disregarded and violated by former champions of such causes, let alone states with a history of persecution. The Geneva Convention, the right of free movement, free speech, the right to exercise one’s religion peacefully, the concept of immigration, all of them gutted. In the East, China flexes its muscles over the South China Sea with no regard for the principles the West ostensibly holds dear. Closer to home, Russia is throwing fits, making mischief wherever it can.

How does one survive such a gauntlet without the ability to act fast, decisively, without wasting time debating everything, as today’s democracies tend to do, often to their detriment? Swift, unilateral action may be the only way to deal with rivals less preoccupied with due process and fair play.

But there’s a danger to this. Tyranny gets a foothold in the name of efficient administration. Dare one circumvent legislation so casually, especially in an area as grave as waging war? Is no one paying attention to the precedents? Why is caution thrown to the wind, then hammered down the middle when it comes back screaming? Surely the politicians know better than that.

This is not a new issue, nor a partisan one. It has less to do with political parties and their respective ideologies, and more with a military agenda. The situation is far gone, down the authoritarian road, it doesn’t matter which party is in charge. The stage looks set for unilateral action, be it by the US as a country, as a superpower, garnished with liberal chives or conservative condiments, or — and here’s the next ingredient, the kicker — the US president, yes, POTUS, acting unilaterally within the Union in the capacity of the first Estate. Acting on his own initiative no matter his party affiliation.

At least this is what’s going to happen if the War Powers Resolution is circumvented.

It may turn out for the best — then again, it may not. This development feels like an atavistic turn toward unchecked power. The path is dubious and dangerous, full of temptations and pitfalls. History is strewn with cultures gone bad with absolute power. We may be looking at a worrying transition in the US from soft empire to hard, to a war regime, a hijacked institution capable of doing what it wants in the face of its once hallow system of checks and balances.

The clue is in the players. Funny how it’s a Democratic administration that’s behind this initiative. The Nobel Peace prize winner’s administration, no less.

Irony is not without a sense of humor. The bigger picture takes time to reveal itself. In a complicated world such as ours, nothing is black and white, everything is in play, and you have to keeping calling it as the coins drop, a rain of coins making for a barrage of calls, the outcome always shifting. Sometimes you need to take a step back to see the bigger picture. The details, the similarities and trends, they reveal themselves from far away. Left or right, well, in this case, it’s a difference of degree. From a distance it’s all the same. Different sides, same mint.

Bottom line, something is taking charge of the USA, and it pushes an agenda regarding foreign policy, has been for years now, if not decades, the trend holding, advancing. Merited or not, this foreign policy brand, we don’t know. Time will tell, after enough coins drop to warrant an outcome. Payout or call-in, it’s anyone’s guess.

From your flip-side Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.