If President Obama initiates military action against Syria without Congressional approval, he must be impeached.
Although this statement sounds extreme, the plight of our republic is also extreme. Impeachment is a necessary step to prevent the complete abrogation of our democratic form of government, which is already under severe assault by special interests, and parts of the government itself.
One of the main principles of our form of government is the separation of powers. The intention of the Founders was to try to prevent, or at least to forestall, what they saw as the otherwise inevitable decay of republican forms of government into dictatorship or tyranny. We are almost at the point of no return in the USA, where we maintain the rituals and formalities of a democracy, but practically, most critical decisions are made by the executive branch without any regard to the will of the people or the norms of international law.
Obama, according to Secretary of State John Kerry, has the right to go to war against Syria without Congressional authorization, but he has chosen to be considerate enough to seek Congressional approval. Although this is very sweet of the President, it is an astounding insult to the core principles of our republic.
Regardless of the outcome of the Congressional vote on Syria, Obama's imperial claims alone require swift censure and action by Congress. The Constitution clearly gives war-making power to Congress alone, in Article I, Section 8. By claiming the right to start a war without consulting Congress, the President has indicated that he does not respect the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold, and is therefore unfit to be president.
Why should anyone care about what the dusty old Constitution says? After all, Presidents and other government officials have been flouting it, and Supreme Court judges reinterpreting it, to suit the desires of those in power for two centuries now.
The reason that we should care, and that Congress must impeach the President, is that by letting the basic principle of the separation of powers erode, Congress has ensured its own degradation into nothing more than a hollow body without power or principle. The branch of government that is supposed to be the main repository of the will of the people has allowed itself to become a powerless group of well-paid lackeys who do the bidding of lobbyists, and are afraid to stand up for the rights and interests of their constituents.
The rule of law is also at stake. The Constitution is the most basic law of the land. That is one of the definitions of a constitution. If the President is allowed to flaunt the Constitution without consequence, then we will lose our republican form of government, and descend into the state of nature. The average citizen will see that there is now an elite group in government that is allowed to break the law at will, and respect for the law in general will be eroded. After all, why not break the law if your “rulers” are doing it? At the same time, individuals and groups in government will be emboldened to transgress more boundaries and laws, knowing that they will not be held accountable. We are seeing this process of increasing lawlessness in government in the NSA scandal, where Director of National Intelligence James Clapper knowingly lied to Congress about the extent of NSA spying, but was not held accountable. If you or I lied to Congress or a court of justice, we would be held in contempt and jailed. Such dual standards, if not squashed now, will lead to increasing resentment among the citizenry, and eventually, rebellion of some kind, and then all bets are off.
Finally, international relations and international law are at stake. The United States is at a cross-roads: it has severely damaged the principles of international law many times already by attacking nations that were not remotely a threat to it. Iraq comes immediately to mind, along with Iran and Guatemala in the 1950’s, Vietnam in the 1960’s, Chile in the 1970’s, etc. Syria has gone out of its way to avoid antagonizing the USA. It has even refrained from responding militarily to outright acts of aggression against it by one of our putative allies, Israel.
Even if one assumes that the government's claims regarding the use of chemical weapons are accurate, which is a highly questionable proposition (why did the US demand that the UN inspectors leave before completing their job, anyway?), Syria has not threatened to attack the USA or any of its allies. In fact, it is the USA and its allies that are supporting Islamist "rebels" attacking Syria. Furthermore, it is easily demonstrated that the use of chemical weapons is not a "red line" that causes us to become militarily involved automatically: Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980's with our covert help, and we did nothing. We also arguably use chemical weapons ourselves in the form of phosphorous incendiary shells and depleted uranium, both of which are chemicals and weapons that cause incredible pain and long-term damage. We used Agent Orange in Vietnam, poisoning both the native Vietnamese and our own soldiers.
By attacking Syria, we will make it clear to the rest of the world that international law will be no protection from our tendency to engage in preemptive war. The principle that no nation may attack another that is not threatening it will be shown to be a rule that applies only to the weak, and is therefore no principle at all. The Nuremberg trials of the Nazi war criminals over 65 years ago supposedly established that aggressive war is the supreme international crime. By violating this principle, we will establish that this principle was really just a temporary convenience, and that our leaders are war criminals. Despite the shocking apathy of most Americans regarding the moral standing of their nation in the world, no nation that causes such chaos in international relations will be economically prosperous for long. Economic prosperity, global trade, and peaceful coexistence depend upon trust, reciprocity, and good-faith diplomacy: the Golden Rule, if you will. We are on the verge of making ourselves pariahs on the global stage, and encouraging the creation of even more alliances formed with the goal of protection from our military aggression.
Let's hope that Congress has the wisdom and strength to oppose Obama's request for the authorization of military force against Syria. Although it is highly unlikely that they will have the courage to do so, they should censure Obama for claiming that he has the right to initiate hostilities against a non-hostile nation without Congressional approval.
They absolutely must impeach him if he goes ahead and starts a war without Congressional approval: a war which will inevitably lend support to Al Qaeda, one of the factions fighting against Assad in Syria. And isn't lending support to the sworn enemies of our nation the definition of treason?