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letters | raised stakes in syria

President makes huge misstep in passing baton to Congress

President Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval for a military strike on Syria betrays a tentativeness and uncertainty that can only result in a taint on his presidency.

First, our commander in chief is ceding authority on a matter of national interest to a body that seizes any opportunity coming its way to frustrate and embarrass him. When deciding on the right thing to do, a leader does not seek the counsel of opponents.

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Second, he apparently has not learned the lesson in the United Kingdom, where Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a political weakening when Parliament overruled his decision to punish Syria militarily.

Obama has stated that poison gas was used by the Syrian government and that this could not be tolerated. He further acknowledged his executive authority to launch a limited missile strike. Thus, he ordained himself as the final decision-maker and assumed the ultimate mantle of authority, only to delegate it.

Third, he has emboldened the terrorists who have devoted their lives to our destruction. They thrive on American indecision — here, an unequivocal condemnation of a war crime coupled with a hesitancy to react to it. At hand is not a civil war but rather an act that cries out for action by a nation looked upon as the world’s moral authority. Islamic fundamentalists will take advantage of what they shall perceive as a lack of courage. In the war on terror, there is no room for trigger shyness.

Obama has found a way to complicate the complex.

Gerald Alch

Brookline

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