Patterico's Pontifications


Ted Cruz on Syrian Air Strikes, Then and Now

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 am

Ted Cruz, September 9, 2013 on proposed air strikes by President Obama: Why I’ll vote no on Syria strike.

First, Assad’s actions, however deplorable, are not a direct threat to U.S. national security. Many bad actors on the world stage have, tragically, oppressed and killed their citizens, even using chemical weapons to do so. Unilaterally avenging humanitarian disaster, however, is well outside the traditional scope of U.S. military action.

Second, just because Assad is a murderous thug does not mean that the rebels opposing him are necessarily better. As of May, seven of the nine major rebel groups appeared to have significant ties to Islamists, some of whom may have links to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Their presence and power have only increased, according to media reports. We should never give weapons to people who hate us, and the United States should not support or arm al-Qaeda terrorists.

Third, the potential for escalation is immense. Syria is in the midst of a sectarian civil war, born of centuries-old animosities. We have no clear ally in this ­Sunni-Shiite conflict, and any “limited” and “proportional” strike could quickly get out of control, imperiling our allies and forcing us into the civil war.

The president and his secretary of state have repeatedly said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons violates an “international norm.” They insist it is critical that we send a “message” to Assad that his behavior is unacceptable. But it is not the job of U.S. troops to police international norms or to send messages. Our men and women in uniform have signed up to defend America.

That was Ted Cruz from 2013. I agreed with his reasoning then and I still agree with it now. Clear-eyed, principled, and well said. You can see why someone might like that Ted Cruz.

Cruz, however, is moderating his tone — now that we have a nominally Republican president who actually did commit an unconstitutional act of war against a foreign power (as Obama later did in Libya). Here is Cruz’s latest statement:

Much more deferential. What has changed? Only the president. Nothing more.

Trump wants to be perceived as a strongman. That means (among other things) sudden, ill-considered acts that have ramifications he hasn’t thought about. This is what folks like me warned against. If Donald Trump wants to be the toughest guy in the room, let him do it on his own and back it up with his tiny fists. He ought not use America’s military to make up for his own inadequacies. I’ll leave you with a few tweets that make the sort of clear statement Ted Cruz ought to have made — and still could make.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

78 Responses to “Ted Cruz on Syrian Air Strikes, Then and Now”

  1. the corrupt sleazy mattis pentagon piggies must think this is the shortest route between where they are now and some more sweet sweet slop in their trough

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  2. Not so. We had a deal. No chemical weapons in Syria. Assad and Putin broke it. That’s all the justification that’s needed.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013

    What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013

    And that’s the kind of thing I come to this blog for. Hilarious.

    Dustin (ba94b2)

  4. Cruise missile diplomacy was good politics and bad policy when Clinton did it and no different today. The irony is Assad’s air force and defenses will likely get an immediate upgrade his benefactors have been reluctant to give him. POTUS has the constitutional authority to act, but it’s his responsibility to do it wisely. Time will tell if he did.

    crazy (d3b449)

  5. Yes the Al queda factor is significant, but I think escalating to satin was the deal breaker. Did we declare war with the French or the tripolitan expedition to the Barbara coast.

    narciso (d1f714)

  6. Not long before Don Rickles got married, he and Frank Sinatra were at the same hotel and Rickles told Sinatra he and his fiancée were going to be dining that evening at the hotel restaurant and asked if Sinatra would come by his table it would thrill his fiancée to meet him.

    So that night Sinatra sees Rickles and his lady having dinner, swings by the table, starts in with pleasantries and Rickles says, “Frank… c’mon… can’t you see I’m eating here?”

    Colonel Haiku (49aad2)

  7. Airstrikes are an act of war. Atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war.

    — Justin Amash (@justinamash) April 7, 2017

    No, Congress has the power to <B. declare war, which is a legal, but not a miitary, action; and Alexander Hamilton already wrote in the Federalist Papers, number 25, published in the New York Packet of Friday, December 21, 1787:

    As the ceremony of a formal denunciation of war has of late fallen into disuse…

    (France had not declared war on England in 1778 when it intervened in the american Revolution)

    The restraint on the millitary power that the framers intended was a limitation on standing armies, enforced by a provision that there be no military appropriation for a period of more than two years in advance.

    Hamilton was arguing that there needed to be the power to raise a peacetime army, but such apower should not be vested in the states.

    Sammy Finkelman (96f386)

  8. There is no reason for us to be involved in Syria. Israel is our only ally in the region and they aren’t involved.

    Sweden just experienced the blessings of allowing Islamic immigration

    NJRob (ee6676)

  9. If sad imagery tugs at your heartstrings, donate your time to a shelter.

    NJRob (ee6676)

  10. Crapgame: How are things going with the bank?

    Big Joe: [A distant explosion is heard as the Tiger fires; Big Joe shakes his head.] Nothin’. The Sherman’s broken down and nobody’s gonna get that Tiger out of the square.

    Crapgame: Make a deal with ‘im.

    Big Joe: What kind of a deal?

    Crapgame: A deal deal! Maybe the guy’s a Republican!

    RIP Don Rickles

    harkin (517285)

  11. Yep.

    Colonel Haiku (49aad2)

  12. Hmm. Maybe my case is not that strong after all. Harry Reid never delivered the authorization to use military force to the SCOAMF. The bill was withdrawn after the Russian-brokered deal.

    It doesn’t matter. I signed that check to General Mattis today, anyway.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. Maybe you want to re-read Cruz’ statement.

    Evan Carter (9783e9)

  14. The last show in the showroom at the Golden Nugget was Rickles and Rickles was relentless. What amazed me was how good a singer and dancer he was.

    mg (31009b)

  15. Only two logical reasons to do it (none of which justifies it)

    1) To show people he is willing to and therefore alter future behavior
    2) To distract from Russia (look I bombed Russia!)

    Otherwise I am against this because our Nation is not willing to kill enough to achieve its Nation Building impulses.

    Blah Blah (44eaa0)

  16. #12 Ralph Peters is demented.

    All the demented and deranged Russia haters luv it. Reason enough to hate it.

    Blah Blah (44eaa0)

  17. Use of CW can’t be allowed, can’t be normalized. Police action… message sent… how will it be received is the question.

    Colonel Haiku (49aad2)

  18. peters was steeped in the military’s weirdo culture for like 22 years

    he’s not right in the head now

    who would be?

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  19. Yeah, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters foresaw the turning of tide of Europe against Islamic immigration to the point that we (foolishly) would be rescuing Muslims from bloodthirsty white Europeans, not the other way around.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  20. why can’t people just be normal

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  21. This “analysis” (tiny hands – Sweet Lord) is off the mark a few few steps. A message was sent, to the Syrians, yes, but just as importantly to the Russians. To somehow turn this into a third grade screed condemning such action as so much macho Trump posturing is quite frankly imbecilic. In the extreme. The argument itself is unsupportable, the making of it reveals the author as an unserious man.

    There are legitimate points to be made that the actions taken are unconstitutional, or not. I often wonder at “resolutions” by Congress “authorizing” the use of force in the same light. But I am also reminded of Reagan’s midnight bombing run aimed direct at Quadaffi, which achieved admirable results.

    The facts on the ground are really quite simple. This country issued a warning once before that the use of chemical weapons in the conflict would be met with a response. The response was to do nothing. Better to say nothing at all. This time, a promise was kept.

    Second, Moscow’s military adventurism *will* bring it into direct conflict with NATO. Where does one start finally showing Putin, who is emboldened by weakness, that his grasp is exceeding his reach? The timing of this move may also be important with Xi in White House South. Another strong man emboldened by the feckless nature of the previous administration. Given that the Russians have now said that their support for Syria is not unconditional, I do wonder if Xi may now have a few doubts as to the steadfastness of its partner in international crime.

    This is all to say the geo-political situation is a damn site more complex than an Orange Cheetoh waving his tiny fists in the air screaming “look at me”. I think Trump deserves a bit more credit than this, and that the situation deserves more than the intellectually shallow interpretation as offered by the author of this post.

    Estarcarus (7c5a44)

  22. why can’t people just be normal

    happyfeet (28a91b) — 4/7/2017 @ 9:02 am

    Time for some self-reflection perhaps.

    NJRob (ee6676)

  23. sick burn Mr. Rob!

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  24. This kind of pseudo-constitutional claptrap isn’t really worth responding to. BUt I will.

    The President is Commander-in-Chief and responsible for the use of the military. By supporting a HUGE standing military in time of “peace”, the Congress has accepted that there are reasons that the President might use it. If they DIDN’T want that, they could dial it all back and rely on nuclear subs to deal with actual attacks.

    Instead, they have offered up the “War Powers Resolution” which gives the president a blank check for 30 days, so long as he gives the leaders of Congress a heads-up (allowing them an opportunity to say no and/or rally Congress). After that, Congress insists the President come to them.

    If an operation seems likely to extend past 30 days, GOP presidents have come to Congress first (3 times out of 3). The times they have not have all been concluded well within that time-frame, and have generally been of a nature that does not admit of open discussion (e.g. Grenada, Panama). Democrat Presidents have not (Kosovo, Libya), despite the fact it was the Democrat Party that rammed through the War Powers Resolution over Nixon’s veto. No president has considered it constitutional, not even Jimmy Carter.

    At least part of it (the veto on continuing action) is probably unconstitutional under current precedent (INS v Chadha, banning legislative vetoes).

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  25. Not so. We had a deal. No chemical weapons in Syria. Assad and Putin broke it. That’s all the justification that’s needed.

    This is spot on. Particularly as it was an international agreement to stop US intervention. IF there is no power to enforce that agreement, then we ought to stop making them.

    We also had a deal (and TREATIES!) with Iran and North Korea. If malicious violation of a strategic treaty is NOT enforceable by a President, then we ought to stop making them, too.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  26. Rest easy.

    The remedy for a case of the Cruz is available at most drugstores:


    DCSCA (797bc0)

  27. Questions for those tho think this is unconstitutional

    * Do you believe that Congress needs to OK orders given to the armed forces?

    * Is the President’s command of the armed forces limited to training and deployment?

    * To what degree does maintaining a standing army, to the tune of 15% of gross national product, imply that the president might need to use it?

    * Does the President’s plenary powers in foreign affairs allow him to use military power to back his positions? Or does he have to beg Congress (e.g. Obama’s Red Line) when the other guy kicks sand in his face?

    * Syria agreed to dispose of its chemical weapons, and Russia agreed to police it. They both lied, and then Syria used the weapons again. American diplomacy ABSOFUKKINGLUTELY demanded that a price be exacted, and this was it. Does a President really have to get permission when agreements are broken, and when the response is a suspended one?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  28. Justin Amash is nearly always wrong. What a loser. I offer $100 to anyone who primaries him.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  29. @29. Syria is not an American problem. North Korea is.

    America is not the world’s policeman.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  30. Questions for those tho think this is unconstitutional

    It seems to me that, based on prior responses by a lot of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, etc., that it’s only unconstitutional if a Democrat does it.

    Davethulhu (fab944)

  31. If America is not the worlds policeman then who is? Russia? China? Iran? Who would you rather police the world, a free Republic of moral people or communists and moslems who, in their own words and deeds, are determined to rule over the world?

    Just checkin’.

    Rev. Hoagie® (785e38)

  32. “‘Just checkin'” is right.

    America is overdrawn.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  33. America is not the world’s policeman.

    trump pretended to understand that but he lied and made us look like stupid slutty bomb sprinklers in the middle east

    it’s like these bozo failmerican president twats just can’t help themselves

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  34. This is a strange day. I’ll be defending Senator Ted on Patterico against the blog owner.

    Never say never.

    Without further adeu,
    Back in 2013, we didn’t have liberal judges usurping the Executive’s expressed power to regulate immigration from hostile countries.
    That’s a major difference then and here.

    Blowing up Assad’s air force will tend to keep them jihadi’s at home, until we get the renegade judge situation cleaned up.

    That’s in this American’s interest.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  35. @35. What’s gonna happen if he catches a ‘Walking Dead’ marathon on the TeeVee?

    Sleep well, America.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  36. @36. Are you kidding? They’re playing with drones to drop munitions and running down people w/Mercedes-Benz trucks. So it’s in America’s interest to shutter sales of drones on Amazon and bomb all Mercedes dealerships in the greater Middle East. Get a grip.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  37. I blame the Canadian public school system.

    Colonel Haiku (49aad2)

  38. Switch to teh decaf, DCSCA.

    Colonel Haiku (49aad2)

  39. This “analysis” (tiny hands – Sweet Lord) is off the mark a few few steps. A message was sent, to the Syrians, yes, but just as importantly to the Russians. To somehow turn this into a third grade screed condemning such action as so much macho Trump posturing is quite frankly imbecilic. In the extreme. The argument itself is unsupportable, the making of it reveals the author as an unserious man.

    This is almost the definition of an ad hominem fallacy.

    The most accurate assessment of Trump’s thought process comes from The Onion:

    WASHINGTON—Amid concerns that a U.S. attack on a Syrian government air base would only escalate the ongoing conflict in the region, President Trump assured Americans Friday that his decision to order a missile strike came only after carefully considering every one of his passing whims. “I want to make it perfectly clear that the decision to launch a military intervention in Syria was the result of meticulously reviewing each fleeting impulse that I felt over the last 48 hours,” said Trump, adding that after learning of chemical weapons used by Bashar al-Assad’s forces to kill innocent Syrian civilians, he gathered his top military aides to pore over dozens of his sudden knee-jerk reactions to the situation. “I examined many different options that whirled through my mind in the moment, including authorizing drone strikes, deploying U.S. troops to Syria, sending in SEAL Team Six to take out Assad, getting up and grabbing a snack from the kitchen, doing nothing, and dropping all our nuclear bombs on Damascus at once. Ultimately, I concluded that an airstrike was the best option at that particular second.” Trump went on to say that if the Assad regime’s behavior continues, he will not hesitate to order further military action if he hasn’t already completely forgotten about Syria by then

    Pretend he has more than a ten-second attention span all you like. All the pretending in the world doesn’t change what is obvious to any disinterested onlooker.

    Patterico (64f0df)

  40. Justin Amash is nearly always wrong. What a loser. I offer $100 to anyone who primaries him.

    What a coincidence. I gave him $100 the day Trump tweeted against him.

    Patterico (64f0df)

  41. I’ve almost never seen a member of Congress who is right as often as Justin Amash. Mike Lee is about the only other person for whom I have comparable respect.

    Patterico (64f0df)

  42. Maybe you want to re-read Cruz’ statement.

    I read it. It’s arguably not inconsistent with what he said in 2013. But it’s a lot weaker and more deferential. I said all this in the post. Maybe you want to re-read the post.

    Patterico (64f0df)

  43. Ted has been walking a very fine diplomatic line with DJT. This statement is a perfect example. I am happy with it as he does ask for the explanation of circumstances justifying this action.

    The rubber will hit the road when it becomes clear there are no legal grounds. The WPA itself is extra-legal, so Ted deliberately chose to not cite it in this first statement.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  44. ted’s statement was pretty gay i loved this part

    as always, our support and prayers are with the brave Americans in uniform who carried out the military strike tonight

    i bet you that whole $100 our unctious boy ted said no such prayers

    why? hello cause they were firing their sassy little tommywhatevers from a ship in like the mediterranean ocean or something it was about as brave as eating totino pizza rolls on the couch while your dog watches to see if you accidentally drop one which of course you do but accidentally on purpose not for reals

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  45. Gather round while I sing you of Canadian Cruz,
    A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience;
    Call him unprincipled for changing his views,
    “Principles,schminzables” coos Canadian Cruz

    Don’t say that he’s hypocritical,
    Say rather that he’s quite political;
    “Once the missiles have flown, by next week it’s old news!
    Memories are short,” coos Canadian Cruz

    Some have harsh words for his bait-and-switch ruse,
    But some say their attitude should be one of gratitude;
    Like the wife and the father; their honor abused,
    So easily betrayed by Canadian Cruz

    “You become a conservative hero;
    Showing Texans you’ll stand up for zero.
    In Calgary ‘oder’ Houston, I have proved I can lose,
    And I’ll prove it again,” coos Canadian Cruz.

    With apologies to the great Tom Lehrer.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  46. @41. Americans don’t want to be governed; they wish to be entertained.

    JR’s put on a helluva show in Season 1 show so far, eh Patterico?! But Mawdie? She’s in syndication; 1975-pantsuiting-her-way across the land lecturing us on the residual value of losing. At Tina Brown’s gathering, she told us the more successful a man is, the more likable he becomes but a woman, just the opposite. Who knew!? Murdoch, Ailes, O’Reilly, Putin — and JR himself, among others, would be cheered by that analysis! Adolf, Tojo and Josef weren’t so bad after all, eh Mawdie?!

    “Never tell the truth when a good lie’ll do!” – JR Ewing [Larry Hagman] ‘Dallas’ CBS TV, 1978-1991

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  47. So all I have to do is mix a little bit of this ,

    with a little bit of that,

    and Happy sends me a hunny?

    What’s the catch?

    papertiger (c8116c)

  48. @49 – Tedtoo does a great Toulouse-Lautrec!

    Much, much better than his Churchill!

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  49. ugh he’s such a freak what do you call the little kneeboards

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  50. Rosary rattlers.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  51. well i hope Mr. Trump finds a way to reclaim his dignity after this silly episode and Ted Cruz, I hope he has a good weekend or whatever

    i’m kinda over the whole ted cruz thing i feel it’s a little contrived how often he comes up here

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  52. You’ll never guess who else is concerned that Trump has caved in to the Washington power establishment:

    Medvedev, in a heated post on his Facebook page, appeared to signal that Russia’s hopes for greater cooperation with the Trump administration on the issue of the Syrian civil war were over: “That’s it,” he wrote.

    “Straight after the election I remarked that everything would depend on how quickly the machine of power broke Trump’s pre-election policies. It took just two and a half months,” the post said.

    “With his military action the U.S. president’s administration has proved also its non-independence, its extreme dependence on the opinion of the Washington establishment,” Medvedev wrote, describing the two countries’ relations as “utterly spoilt.”

    nk (dbc370)

  53. he’s laying it on a lil thick no

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  54. I tend to agree with Dmitry, but the funny thing about that is how a Russian Prime Minister bought in to Democrat propaganda.

    Medvedev – what a rube. Someone make a note. That guy will believe anything.

    Could come in handy later.

    papertiger (c8116c)

  55. Sounds like pootie poopoo needs to be a little more flexible.

    new sheriff in town
    and orange is the new smack
    not scart of shiite

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  56. He bets on the wrong horse, he previously thought he had freedom of action from volodya

    narciso (d1f714)

  57. Pathetic.

    Leviticus (d4d726)

  58. Variation on a propaganda theme: “President Trump is not our enemy. The American people are not our enemy. The Washington power establishment is our enemy.”

    nk (dbc370)

  59. Patheticus…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  60. It seems to me that, based on prior responses by a lot of Trump, Cruz, Rubio, etc., that it’s only unconstitutional if a Democrat does it.

    That’s not necessarily so, although for the most part the GOP obeys the letter of the WPR and the Dems do not.

    Gulf War I & II and Afghanistan were clearly going to be protracted efforts and the GOP president asked, and got a declaration of warishness. It’s really not his fault that Congress is so chicken-sh1t.

    Reagan vs Libya, Grenada, Panama and the Mayaguez thing did not get approval, but were short-lived, again following the limitations of the WPR.

    The Dems get us into things like Kosovo and Libya and the Drone War without bothering to ask Congress at all.

    As far as Syria is concerned, Obama drew his Red Line and then threatened wimpy “action”. So wimpy that Lindsey Graham couldn’t agree. He might have been within his rights to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons but he hesitated too long and an alternative method of dealing with the problem was put in place by others.

    But now, after solemn promises, international agreements and a UN resolution keeping military force in abeyance, Syria murders a town of civilians to allow a military advance. It is past time for more talk-talk. The attack that was in abeyance is un-abayed. The point of the attack is this: Using chemical weapons isn’t helpful to your cause. Kiss off $500 million in fighter jets.

    Where the Dems boldly go at leisure, the GOP waits for consensus. Where the Dems fail to act in crisis, the GOP acts with reason.

    It’s not the same.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  61. I do wish that someone besides Trump was in the big chair, though. How old will Romney be in 2020? How well will President Trump do against a single strong primary opponent?

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  62. This is more akin to the gulf if sidra confrontation in 81, to Grenada, I would think, re parallel with Lebanon, that is yet to be seen. The narrative was the shelling of the druze homeland of the chouf, was the entry into that conflict

    narciso (d1f714)

  63. One thing did change beside the prez. The cheating on the deal to be rid of chemical weapons.

    Frank (58652c)

  64. How high is too high, how fast is too fast, KevinM?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  65. ever since his inanely gay missile-sprinkling attack on Syria President Trump’s been very judicious about not getting us entangled in a silly middle-eastern conflict

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  66. Margaret Sullivan, has a sad.

    narciso (c99e1e)

  67. is she sad cause of how President Trump and his closet-tranny Lady Mattis are squandering armaments for symbolic nonsense

    break it down for us

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  68. if we needed more evidence that our corrupt p.o.s. idiot military was vastly over-funded President Trump has given us that in spades

    that’s the one good thing that might come out of this

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  69. A little from column a, a little from column b

    narciso (c99e1e)

  70. CNN tries to turn interview on Syrian strike into anti-Trump, pro refugee and pro Hillary moment, fails miserably:

    harkin (c230be)

  71. 48 – “Americans don’t want to be governed…”

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people…….not on the people.

    harkin (c230be)

  72. #41 – Uhm, no. We may have a different definition of the term. You saying it does not make it so. I do marvel at the accusation leveled against me when I contrast my replies to you with your posts about Trump. Curious stuff, that. Your logic is a bit convoluted. I have attempted in the past to engage you in a serious discussion on the man himself, but Trump short circuits something in you. No rational, thoughtful discussion is possible. It is always a variation of any manner of high school vitriol. As I’ve noted – you hate the man. It is useless to even try. So I end my attempts, and decide if a scratched record is worth listening to. If God himself descended from the firmament ethereal and proclaimed Trump at least a decent human being, you’d throw your Bible in the fire.

    I’m not sold on the guy, never have been, but with the downs has come some solid work. We’ll just to see how it washes out in the end. With all due respect.

    Estarcarus (cd97e1)

  73. #44. It’s more deferential because the strike had already happened. That president came to Congress for permission. This one didn’t. This president is of his own party, notionally. That one wasn’t. And he asked Trump to justify it in retrospect and to justify future action.

    Evan Carter (9783e9)

  74. When you see Peter Boyle’s ‘Monster’ doin’ the buck and wing to ‘Puttin’ On The Ritz’ in Young Frankenstein one can only think of Ted Cruz.

    “Super-Duper!”- The Monster [Peter Boyle] ‘Young Frankenstein’ 1974

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  75. #67 – I gather you’ve never done after action damage assessments. Gay Sprinkling? Not quite. Were you in the vicinity of the strike, the only one doing the sprinkling would be you. Resulting in Unhappy Feet? I don’t know what you for, so I shan’t guess.

    Estarcarus (9389c8)

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