Sometimes, I believe that we need to have a refresher course on the Constitution, especially the information concerning the Executive Branch of our government, which is found in Article II and section 2. Not being a legal expert, I refer to my colleagues here at the EGSC to fill me in when it comes to presidential authority, especially in thorny cases like expanded powers, assumed powers and letters of intent.
Allow me to digress. A little over 30 years ago, my brother-in-law (also a Presbyterian minister) and I were given the remarkable gift of a designed trip to Israel for the specific purpose to learn about the complexity of the Middle East. Let me tell you, it is complex! Anyway, we thought we would like to visit Al Aqsa, one of the holiest shrines of Islam, which sits on what many historians and archaeologists believe to be the site of Solomon's Temple and where Muhammad had a remarkable experience.
We were as close to the mosque as non-believers were allowed and happened to overhear a brief conversation between a tourist and an elderly Palestinian man who was cleaning his fingernails with a rather large curved-bladed knife. The tourist — trying to be friendly, I guess — said to him in Hebrew, "Shalom Aleichem." Problem number one was that the tourist should have used Arabic. Number two was that the greeting roughly means, "freedom from strife and disorder." The old man looked up, stopped cleaning his nails, and replied in very good English, "There is no peace here."
David and I both agreed that after all the fighting in the Middle East over many thousands of years, it takes a lot more than good intentions and military interventions to change a way of life.
I do not mean to speak ex cathedra or as an authoritarian, but I would like to give an opinion, "I would like our country to allow the Middle East to solve its problems with time and political conversation and compromise rather than with weapons and destruction."
Historically, our nation came from a European influence and even with all of our wars and struggles has been able to evolve into a remarkably civil and Democratic society. This is certainly not the case with those in the area known as the Fertile Crescent with its tribal, religious and sectarian differences which we may try to understand intellectually but not truly understand emotionally.
I realize that our form of government functions best when we allow our Constitution to work when good and decent elected representatives join together. Thomas Jefferson said it so well, "To inform the minds of the people, and to follow their will is the chief duty of those placed at their head."
I listen and watch every news — and so-called — news channel available and I try to eliminate as much of the partisanship and opinionated positions possible. One report suggested that we read and listen to news from the Middle East that stated if our president were to change his mind, then America would be seen as weak and both our allies and our enemies would take advantage of our inability to be strong. Please! No one complained when the prime minister of England listened to Parliament!
Here's the rub, folks. I am not the isolationist that FDR was, but I certainly lean in the direction of leaving very large chunks of the Middle East alone because we should have learned that our "Shock and Awe" methods didn't shock too many in Iraq and life is back to what they would call normal.
What I stand by is that our president and our Congress will be working together in reaching an agreement on how to proceed. I am so proud of our ability to state our positions openly and courageously, apart from outside criticism and foreign influence. I cannot predict the outcome or whether or not I will totally agree with the final decision. I will support their decision — even if I disagree — because I know our representatives will have chosen action that is best for our country and for our world.
This is and always will be, "The American Way."