If Congress votes no on military action against Syria and President Barack Obama goes ahead with airstrikes, it would be grounds for impeachment, says Princeton University philosophy professor Cornel West
Such a move would be "dictatorial," he said as he discussed the Syrian situation with Tavis Smiley, his co-host on the syndicated radio show "Smiley and West."
Such strikes, he said, would be "autocratic, dictatorial, unconstitutional — you would think in some ways grounds for impeachment."
"This idea of Congress [not] approving it and the president going off to do it anyway, that's just downright dictatorial. I hope he has enough sense not to do that," West said.
West has been one of Obama's strongest critics from the left,
criticizing him as "a white man in black skin," and claiming that African Americans are "being pushed to the back of the bus
" in favor of gays and lesbians.
Now he has attacked him on his support for a military strike against Syria.
"There's no doubt that ugly and vicious war crimes were committed against the precious brothers and sisters in Syria, but it just doesn't make sense to commit more war crimes," West said. "It would be an illegal war; it would be an immoral war for the United States to begin bombing and sending missiles."
He said impeachment should follow "a flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution," and this would be the case if Obama struck after Congress voted no.
"This becomes so undeniable in terms of looking Congress in the face and saying, 'I'm going to do something that you have not authorized me to do because I want to do it; I have my own internal authority."
"You begin to sound like Richard Nixon — it's legal because the president said so. . . That's not how constitutional democracies are supposed to work," West added.
It's surprising, West said, to see a Republican leading the argument against military strikes in Syria, while several Democrats are giving into them.
"It's just so sad to see the liberals and the Democratic Party buckle so quickly, and it's fascinating to see somebody like Rand Paul leading the charge of being a defender of not wanting to commit more war crimes," he said. "We don't associate the right wing with that position."
Smiley said that attacking Syria would be an insult to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy of nonviolence, especially after Obama just honored him with a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of King's march on Washington and his "I Have a Dream" speech.
"In his speech Wednesday, he talked about the moral power of nonviolence, he talked about the moral force of nonviolence," Smiley said. "It's one thing to honor Martin with our words in Washington one day and 48 hours later start making plans to dishonor him with our deeds in Syria."
"You have a war president with a peace prize, once again the parallel of King and Obama just doesn't measure up. He ought to take that bust out of the oval office," Smiley added.
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