Tags: us | syria | missile | strike

Alan Dershowitz: Syria a Political, Not Legal Decision

Monday, 09 Sep 2013 05:28 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Famed civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz says the Constitution is inadequate to deal with the issue of whether the United States should launch a military strike against Syria.

"This is really a political decision, not a legal decision, and to the extent it's legal, the politics and the legality are almost inseparable in a situation like this," Dersheowitz told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"The Constitution says that Congress shall have power to declare war. This is not something that requires a declaration of war. We don't want to declare war on Syria; that would be absurd. Plainly the Constitution is inadequate to the situation. It's an 18th century document and we're dealing with 21st century problems."

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Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor, said the U.S. has not officially declared war since 1941— its entry into World War II with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor — and it's unlikely it will ever again.

"Since that time, presidents have engaged in the Korean War – which was a real war – the Vietnam War – which was a real war – the Iraq War – which is pretty much a real war – the Afghanistan War," he said.

"This is much, much different. This is much more like a Libya, like Kosovo, and anybody who tells you they know the answers to whether it's lawful or not lawful is selling you snake oil. Nobody knows the answer to that question and it's probably not a question that will ever get into the Supreme Court."

Dereshowitz said he believes that if a strike against Syria is not approved on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama will not proceed with it.

"My own prediction is if it doesn't pass, he won't do it. Look, let's remember what the situation really is like. Here we have a humanitarian issue that doesn't involve the United States. The United States is no more interested in this than any other country," he said.

"In fact, the Arab countries should have a much greater stake in this. Pakistan should be far more interested in whether Muslims are killing Muslims and Jordan should be much more interested in whether Arabs are killing Arabs than the United States. This [does] not involved the national interest of the United States. We're just trying to be do-gooders."

He called out the "hypocrites in Europe" who he said claim to be involved in human rights, but criticize the U.S. for a lack of involvement.

"It would be easier today to get the Europeans to want to attack Israel than it would be to get the Europeans to try to attack Syria. They care more about Israel building a settlement somewhere than they do about hundreds of thousands of Arabs killing each other," he said.

"It is such hypocrisy. The minute we pay any attention to those academic and needy hypocrites in Europe is the minute we have to succumb to their selective morality, or immorality."

He added that the U.S. would never have gone to war against Germany if Japan hadn't "foolishly bombed" Pearl Harbor.

"And then we wouldn't have gone to war them except for the fact that Germany declared war on the United States and then we responded by declaring war on Germany," he said.

"The notion that this is an administration that is dying to go to war, it's not. When you think of four people who are more adverse to war, it's hard to think of any four people more that Barack Obama, [Secretary of State] John Kerry, [Secretary of Defense] Chuck Hagel, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations] Samantha Power."

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