The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Tragedy in Syria, Farce in Washington


NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at
Solomon just wrote the piece "Obama Will Launch a Huge Propaganda Blitz -- and May Attack Syria Even If He Loses the Vote in Congress." He said today: "The Obama White House has come up with a stunning new innovation in what Senator J. William Fulbright called 'the arrogance of power' five decades ago. When it comes to war, such terrain has been more than amply trod already, but the latest maneuver is unprecedented. Obama earned praise for saying he's 'mindful that I'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy,' but he is actually proceeding to undermine constitutional democracy -- seeking what he calls 'authorization' from Congress for use of military force while asserting the right to use that force whether Congress authorizes it or not.

"This is nothing less than an effort to destroy the meaning of congressional 'authorization.' Under the Obama administration's formulation, a positive vote from Congress would affirm profound unity for war while a negative vote would be just advisory. On matters of war and peace, the next step might be for the Executive Branch to provide all 535 members of Congress with juice, graham crackers and blankets for naptime.

"The power of arrogance from this White House threatens to normalize a new and highly pernicious wrinkle in the fabric of presidential war-making. It is unclear whether members of Congress will take sufficient notice -- and umbrage -- to mount an effective challenge, which must go beyond voting "no" on Obama's resolution for attacking Syria. Unless there is enormous pushback, the president will succeed in establishing a political precedent that is antithetical to the separation of powers and the consent of the governed."

On Sept. 1 Kerry told CNN that the president "has the right [to attack Syria] no matter what Congress does." [At 3:30, see video]

Solomon is founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. His is co-founder of, which recently launched a petition against bombing Syria, now at over 57,000 signatories.

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at, @emptywheel
A noted blogger on legal issues, Wheeler writes at She just wrote: "President Obama claims he only wants to engage in limited strikes. He has promised there would be no boots (aside from JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command] and CIA ones, presumably) on the ground. But he has proposed something that could be potentially far broader." She notes that Jack Goldsmith, legal adviser to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense in the Bush administration, recently wrote: "Does the proposed AUMF authorize the President to use force against Iran or Hezbollah, in Iran or Lebanon? Again, yes, as long as the President determines that Iran or Hezbollah has a (mere) connection to the use of WMD in the Syrian civil war..."

REESE ERLICH, rerlich at
Freelance journalist Erlich just wrote a satirical piece, "From Surrender Monkey to Oldest Ally," which states: "France supports military action as a disinterested power concerned with human rights atrocities, not as the former colonial power in Syria."

Erlich is available for interviews from "all major media except the BBC, the Guardian and any other London daily." He has called on Congress "to rename English muffins as Freedom muffins and for Tea Party members to call their favorite blend Freedom Breakfast tea." He called today for a boycott of all British products. "The British parliament voted against U.S. national interests last week," said Erlich. "It was a slap in the face to all patriotic Americans anxious to teach Bashar al-Assad a lesson. We would not have needed a U.S. congressional vote if those limeys had stuck to the playbook."

Erlich is a noted foreign correspondent and author of the forthcoming book Syria's Uprising: Assad, the Rebels and U.S. Policy. He has reported from Syria five times, as well as from neighboring countries Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

He said today: "Most other countries around the world, as well as the American people, want to see proof that Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons and, even then, they have doubts about a military attack. ... A U.S. military strike will not deter Assad, but it will lead to calls for further, more decisive action by the U.S., a path fraught with danger. ...

"Luckily, Saudi Arabia has once again proven to be America's staunchest ally by arming extremist opposition forces most likely to defeat Assad. Saudi princes haven't been able to convince the Arab League, which voted a second time not to support military intervention. But what difference does that make if America has France, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on our side?"

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.