Nader to Obama: You Cannot Start a War by Yourself

Syria comments by Ralph Nader, who was the Green Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000, and an independent presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008.

(excerpt from)
Obama: You Cannot Start a War by Yourself

Dear President Obama:

Before you decide to attack Syria, yet another Arab or Islamic country that does not threaten U.S. security, there are certain constitutional “niceties” that you should observe. Chronically violating the Constitution overturns the rule of law and can produce costly blowbacks.

On August 28, you stated that bombing Syria “is not about war, it’s about accountability,” obviously referring to the brutal gassing of neighborhoods outside of Damascus. What about your accountability to receive authorization from Congress which, under Article 1, Section 8, has the sole and exclusive power to declare war? Spare Americans the casuistry of your lawyers who “legalized” your war on Libya, with no declaration, authorization or appropriation of funds from Congress, and pushed the envelope of the “unitary presidency” beyond the unlawful and brazen extremes advocated by George W. Bush and his lawyers.

Nearly 200 members of both parties of Congress – now on its August recess – demanded there be no attack on Syria without Congressional authorization. These signers have so far included 72 Democrats. Merely secretly consulting with some lawmakers on the Intelligence Committees does not substitute for formal Congressional authorization. The framers of our Constitution – whatever their other differences – were unanimous in writing Article 1, Section 8, so that no president could go to war on his own. To do so, as you have already done in the past, would be a major impeachable offense…

Read the rest of the Syria letter at here.

14 thoughts on “Nader to Obama: You Cannot Start a War by Yourself

  1. Green Party Voter

    Thanks for this story about Green Party’s Ralph Nader.

    Mr. Nader appears to have been listened to by the the President.

    Greens continue to lead the demos for fiscally conservative peace!

    It is moral, ethical, honorable to not go to war, and it saves tax dollars.

  2. Dave Terry

    Nader: “Obama: You Cannot Start a War by Yourself”

    So, which planet does Mr. Nader live on? Our Imperial Presidents have been starting wars “by themselves” for 3 generations now.

    First of all; NO President acts “solus ipse”. EVERY president is merely the mouthpiece for
    a cadre of a special interest or a coalition of like
    minded interests.

    There are ALWAYS ‘special interests’ who are
    very committed to maintaining a war mentality AND a war economy. Any president who wants
    to exert his “will” over the world, OR chooses to use the support of those who do will always find a ready alliance with “War Party”.

    Another of the many reasons why the terms, Democratic Party and Republican Party are

  3. Thomas L. Knapp

    My prediction:

    Congress is not set to come back into session until the 9th, and I haven’t seen any news stories rumoring that they’ll move that date up.

    Some time between now and then, there will be another “major incident,” Obama will claim “this is an emergency, no time to wait,” and launch the attacks, and then attempt to shock and awe Congress into retroactively ratifying his decision.

    That would not be unprecedented. Lincoln began prosecuting the War Between the States before Congress could get back to Washington to stop him.

    The reason I think that this will happen is that if Congress gets hold of the issue before Obama acts, they may treat him like the UK’s parliament treated Cameron. If, on the other hand, there’s another nice juicy atrocity to base it on and the missiles are already flying before they get back into session, the weaker votes against it will probably seek the cover of “partisanship stops at the water’s edge and you don’t second-guess the Commander in Chief in a situation like this.”

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    Steve @ 5,

    I hope I am wrong, too … but Obama does not want to be told “no” by Congress, and the best way to avoid being told “no” is to hand them a fait accompli.

    The incident doesn’t even have to be a “false flag” thing, although I don’t doubt that he’d go that way if necessary. There’s always SOMETHING going on that can be inflated to “massive atrocity” proportions. And since the rebels want a strike sooner rather than later, they will likely either find or create a situation to scream loudly about in the next few days.

  5. Steve M

    I am hoping this has epic libertarian leaning republicans join with anti-military war anti-drug war democrats in a huge upset for the the two parties of war.

    The question I would ask Libertarians is…. if an opposition party is needed to harbor libertarian leaning anti-war republicans and libertarian anti-war democrats in the 2014 and 2016 election should we the libertarian party welcome them?

  6. Oranje Mike

    Obama is going to bomb Syria with or without approval from congress. It’s not as if that matters anyway. Did approval from congress make Iraq right?

    This is going to be Obama’s Iraq. The pieces are already falling into place and the similarities are eerie. Even current administration officials yucking it up with the men they now want to go after.

  7. Congressional Vote on Syrian War

    @6 As an alternative, Obama realizes he has put his foot in his mouth, does not want war with Iran, and can now kill two birds with one stone…If the House or Senate rejects war, he has his excuse not to bomb Syria, and can say ‘no way I can get approval for war with Iran, so I shall not entertain the possibility’. That is an alternative, not a prediction.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    CVoSW @ 10,

    It may not be a prediction, but I hope it comes true.

    My reasons for believing it will go the other way are as follows:

    1) Since the end of World War II, there’s been a continuing semi-face-off between the executive branch and Congress over who gets to be the “foreign policy decider.” I say a SEMI-face-off, because usually one side blinks before it comes to a crisis, and usually that side is Congress. An “interim incident” to which the president “responds” would give Congress the cover it needs to blink and kick that can down the road some more. If things go as advertised and Congress votes it down, then Obama either forces the issue or Congress de facto wins that decades-long argument.

    2) While I don’t suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome (“Secret Marxist Muslim born in Kenya! Most left-wing administration in American history!”), Obama does strike me as at least mildly megalomaniacal and confident that he can do anything he wants and get away with it. And he seems to want this war.

  9. Kimberly Wilder

    I am truly enjoying the conversation, and the predictions on this topic. Thanks, all.

    Fingers crossed (Or, should there be a more profound way to ask for such important luck?) that we do not go to war with Syria, nor Iran.

  10. Dave Terry

    The Pointing Finger

    Whose Credibility Is It Anyway?
    by Dr. Steve Finger

    “Sacre bleu! Francois, the Syrians, they have guns.”
    “Ah, non, Pierre. I thought they were brioches or croissants.”
    “We surrender! We surrender!”
    Ok, we’ve got the French on our side. But is that enough?
    The U.N.? Fuggedaboutit! Rest of Europe? Sorry, summer vacation. Arab league? Yeah, well, sure, we’re all with you but go ahead and get started. We’ll meet you there.
    So, why are we still in? Our national security is at stake? How does Assad gassing his citizens threaten our national security? The truth is it doesn’t. He could kill every last one of his people and it wouldn’t jeopardize our security at all. As human beings, we’d feel awful but we wouldn’t be any less secure.
    The reason we’re involved in the Syria debacle is that President Obama put the credibility of the United States on the line by threatening action against the Syrian government if Assad used poison gas on his people. And now that he’s used gas, here we are. Do we do nothing and have our friends no longer trusting us and our enemies no longer respecting us or do we take military action which could end who knows how? Thank you, Mr. President.
    If this were a parliamentary democracy, the government could hold a ‘no confidence’ vote. President Obama could go back to a seat in parliament. And we would have a new leader who would, hopefully, be more circumspect in his threats and comments.
    But we are not a parliamentary democracy. And so, the only one who can get us out of this mess is the one who got us into it. President Obama should do the decent thing and resign. The credibility problem is his, not ours. If the president were to leave, he would take his credibility problem with him and, with a lot of work, his successor(s) could eventually get us back to where we once were and where we need to be again.
    Eight years of ‘let George do it’ and what have we gotten? Bush without the humility. Mr. President, for the good of the county you say you love, please, get your feet off OUR desk and go!

    Dr. Finger practices medicine (Otolaryngology) in Brooklyn. He ran for Congress in ’06 on
    Libertarian and Republican lines. Visit his blog at:

    Obama is far and away the best candidate yet for a ‘garroting party’; his Nobel Prize would be an excellent choice of weapon.

  11. paulie

    Thanks for this story about Green Party’s Ralph Nader.

    Neither Nader nor yourself are affiliated with the national Green Party, nor is he affiliated with your Independent Greens.

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