Since Obama announced he would seek Congressional approval for intervention in Syria, some have gone on to speculate whether Congress will make the “right” decision. I think this illustrates the partisan politics behind most of the arguments, pro and con. For example, those on the left are against military action, possibly because Assad is partial to their way of thinking. On the other hand, one of the groups in favor of intervention, the neo-liberals, hope Assad’s ouster will give them access to Syria’s economy.
I appreciate Obama’s decision, and not just because I’m against further involvement in Syria. Regardless of what Congress decides, adherence to the law has its own benefits. It inspires confidence and promotes faith in the good will of a country’s leaders, both at home and abroad. In this light, it is interesting that Obama’s supposed allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, have pressured him to bypass Congress–in other words, to bypass the voice of the people.
The proper foundation of law, as understood by the ancient Romans, was discussed by Georges Dumezil:
“Finally, we know that the institution of the fetiales, which is generally attributed to Numa (and otherwise to Ancus, his grandson and emulator), was founded to preserve peace through the strict observance of agreements and, when that was not possible, to lend to the declaration of war and to the conclusion of treaties a regulated and ritualistic character. In short, Numa’s fides is the foundation of Rome’s supreme creation, its law.” ((Dumezil, Georges. Mitra-Varuna. Trans. Derek Coltman. Urzone Inc. New York.1988.))
The benefits of adherence to the law are not limited to foreign relations. A better understanding of the law might also help us sort out America’s domestic problems. Recently, we have seen our laws changed to suit the goals of certain leaders. These goals include the increase of presidential power, and a higher birthrate through the subjugation women. It is reasonable to assume that laws which decrease liberty and justice have no relation to ‘fides’. In future posts we’ll try to develop a better understanding of the proper foundation of law.