The President doesn't have the UNILATERAL authority to commit US Forces to War... Under the US Constitution Article 1, Sec 8, Clause 10, Congress is the ONLY Constitutional authority authorized to declare War. In addition, Article 1, Sec 8, Clause 13, 14, 15: gives Congress, not the President, the power to make all rules that govern and regulate land and naval forces; including those laws, rules, and regulations for the maintenance, deployment and conduct of war by our military forces.
Congress has provided the President with 'limited war powers', to be used in the event of a 'CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER' to US interest and National Security. These powers are specific and limited in scope and time. The President must establish that a clear and present danger to US or National Security interest exists, BEFORE these powers can be engaged. The President may commit US Military forces for no more than 90 days, under these Acts, without obtaining Congressional approval. The President must notify Congress BEFORE deploying any troops in war and he must submit a written justification, to keep them deployed, within the first 30days of deployment.
Under the War Powers and National Security Act of 1947 as amended... the President may commit US Forces whenever an immanent threat of attack on the US or its interests exist. He may do so without formal Congressional approval but must notify Congress immediately if he engages our troops in war. The Syrian Civil War hardly posses a 'Clear and Present Danger' or an 'Immanent' threat to US National Security.
The Presidents authority under the National Security and the War Powers Acts require the President to ADVISE, select senior members, in both Houses of Congress, 'BEFORE' or simultaneously with committing troops. This provides Congress with the time to object or too take action to stop the President from improperly deploying our military. The President then has 30 days from the date he engages our troops in combat, to submit a written request and justification to Congress, to keep such troops in combat. The justification and request must include the Presidents reasons for deployment and provide the objectives and a time table for deployment. If the President's request exceeds 90 days Congress must vote to approve his request. If the President's action is not justified, Congress may vote to have the troops immediately removed from combat.
The purpose and intent of the War Powers and National Security Acts... is to provide the President with the ability to react to a national military emergency, without requiring Congress to convene, debate, and vote. It gives the President the ability to lawfully respond too a clear and present danger; too, an imminent or ongoing attack against the US and its interest without delay.
It was not the intent of the War Powers or the National Security Acts to grant the President the unilateral right to engage our military in staged or planed acts of war, without first obtaining Congressional approval. The President may act using these powers only when there is a clear and imminent' danger to US National security interests. President Obama is attempting to claim the lawful authority to unilaterally commit US forces without meeting the War Powers and National Security Acts requirements.
No other President has acted outside of the SPECIFIC provisions of these Acts... However, some argue they have acted outside these acts, but the unlawful acts of one President do not justify violations of the letter and spirit of these Acts by another President. It is a very weak argument to justify braking the law by claiming others have. President Obama appears to have violated the Constitution, the War Powers and National Security Acts, by failing to notify Congress before committing troops in Libya. He now wants Congress to approve committing forces to attack Syria; while, maintaining he has the right to do so if Congress refuses. Under the War Powers and National Security Acts the President MAY NOT commit forces after Congress specifically declines to do so... REGARDLESS of the President's determination.
If Congress says no to committing US Forces in Syria and the President commits US forces, citing his authority, under the War Powers and National Security Acts, he will be in clear violation of the law and Constitution. Any officer or member of the military, who knows that Congress has declined the President's request but acts upon the President's orders to engage in war, may be in violation of the law and their oath of office.
What is appalling is Congress refuses to assert their Constitutional authority, too reign in this President's cavalier attitude regarding War. I say cavalier, because this President obviously believes he may unilaterally commit US Forces outside the limits of the law and Constitution. It appears that this Administration believes NATO had the authority to authorize the President's actions in Libya.
NATO is a Defensive Treaty with specific limits on engaging US Forces... It requires a member state to be under attack or in imminent threat of attack before US forces may be committed. Which NATO Treaty member was under attack or in immanent threat of attack by Libya? The NATO Treaty did not apply to the use of US Forces in Libya. Congress was not consulted on Libya nor was there a clear and present danger to US interests in Libya. The President appears to have acted unilaterally and illegally in Libya.
I do not see how the President can use the War Powers and National Security Acts to justify, the commitment of US forces in Syria. There is no clear or present danger to US interest and no immanent threat of attack from Syria. The Civil War in Syria is an internal concern and not a matter for US National Security. The UN has not declared Assad in violation nor requested the US to act. If the UN does request US forces to engage Syria, Congress must also vote to commit US Forces in Syria. The President can not use the UN as justification to commit US forces anywhere without Congressional approval.
The US MSM and several members of Congress are acting disingenuously... claiming the US has a National Security interest in Syria's civil war. However, there is no convincing argument that demonstrates the US is threatened or its national security put in jeopardy by the civil war in Syria. Therefore, the President's assertion that he has the power to commit US troops under the War Powers and National Security Act is without standing. If Congress votes not to commit us troops and the President does, he will be in violation of US law.
I commented on CSPAN early this AM on this issue... and was cut off by the commentator, who proceeded to site incidents where US Presidents committed US Troops to combat without Congressional approval. However, those incidents were taken out of context and the listening audience was given HALF TRUTHS. The War Powers and National Security Acts ALLOW Presidents to commit US forces to combat under SPECIFIC TERMS AND CONDITIONS without Congressional approval, none of which apply to Syria, but may have applied to other incidents.
An example of the appropriate use of the War Powers and National Security Acts was President Bush's military intervention in Panama. When the government of Panama, under Manual Noriega, threatened to close down the Panama Canal in 1989, President George H.W. Bush used the War Powers and National Security Act to protect the Panama Canal Zone. In this incident there was a 'clear and present danger' to US National Security and its territory. President Bush rightfully acted under the War Powers and National Security Act, to keep the US Canal Zone, a US Protectorate, secure from being seized and closed by Manual Noriega's government in Panama.
It should be noted that the War Powers and National Security Acts are in effect Congressional authority to go to war... granted under specific conditions and limits to the US President. Therefore, IT IS NOT THE PRESIDENT who authorizes war under these Acts... it is Congress who has voted and approved war based on the conditions in these acts.
A fine point, but a critical one... making it clear the President has NO AUTHORITY it is Congress whose authority is used to declare war or a state of war under the war powers and national security act. It is not the President's unilateral decision.