FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Cakewalk Across the Constitution

by RALPH NADER

George W. Bush has this thing about laws — domestic or international — that disagree with him. He likes to operate outside their embrace or withdraw from them or try to repeal them. It is not just personal — as when he costs taxpayers millions to pay for his political trips on Air Force One before elections — it also involves the health, and safety of Americans and people abroad.

Bob Woodward relates in his new book on Bush and war that the President admits to being a black and white person who makes decisions from his gut. A dubious enough personality type for a football coach, this trait raises serious concerns when imbedded in the commander-in-chief of the most powerful arsenal on Earth.

Consider what this gut instinct has done to our constitutional framework and the tenuous architecture of international law. Earlier this year, Bush launched an all out offensive on Congress to have it selectively surrender its exclusive constitutional authority to declare war against Iraq. Despite heroic efforts from legislators led by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), Congress supinely gave up its war-making power to the White House.

Jefferson, Madison, Adams and company had distinct reasons for refusing to lodge this power in the Presidency and instead wanted many legislators in open session to make this awesome decision. They did not want another King George emerging with this single-power launching war.

Throughout the year 2002, Bush made no secret of his desire to unilaterally overthrow the Iraqi dictatorial regime (called “regime change”). But the opinion polls were unflagging; the American people in sizable majorities did not want the U.S. to go it alone.

OK said Mr. Bush; he’ll go to the UN and have the Security Council resume a rigorous inspection process in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The other nations then insisted that if Iraq materially breaches the UN resolution, the U.S. would go back to the Security Council for any further action. Yet Bush made it clear that if the UN did not act, the U.S., and its very few allies, would do so unilaterally.

It should be noted that in responding to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Bush’s more deliberative father, then President Bush, first asked the UN for a resolution, then asked Congress, after the November elections not before as did his son, for its approval the following January.

Treaties that deal with arms control or a real weapon of mass destruction called global warming are irritants to our White House-based west Texas sheriff. The Bush Administration has rejected the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, declined to support the small arms treaty, the land mines treaty and the verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. Mr. Bush refuses to submit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for ratification by the Senate which rejected it under President Clinton. There are other similar avoidances.

Even in the area of health, Mr. Bush is indifferent. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which 130 countries have signed, has not received Mr. Bush’s willingness to send it to the Senate for ratification. What is objectionable about the Covenant is that it has a “right to health” within its terms, along with steps to attain this right to health incumbent on signatory nations. The U.S. is the only western democracy without universal health care.

Perhaps no other area of American law has aroused more anger, pre-9/11 — in Mr. Bush’s mind than the American civil justice system which enables wrongfully injured children and adults to sue, among other parties, the President’s corporate friends when they sell dangerous or defective products.

As Governor of Texas and as President, Bush has wanted to limit corporate compensation for unlimited injuries, take away the authority of the states and put it in Washington, D.C. and federally tie the hands of state judges and juries who are the only ones who hear and see the evidence in trials. Note, however, none of his so-called “tort reforms” would take away the right of corporations to sue people or other companies.

It is the daily behavior of this one-track President that is irritating even the usually compliant White House press corp. Day after day, his repetitively belligerent sound bites and his unrevealed “intelligence” declarations about Iraq have been wearing thin. A Los Angeles Times poll on December 17th found that seventy two percent of respondents, including sixty percent of Republicans, “said the President has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq.”

On October 11th, the Washington Post reported that the former military commander for the Middle East, retired Marine Gen. Anthony C, Zinni, is opposed “to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.” Zinni believes Iraq is already contained and that the U.S. has other priorities in the Middle East. Adding that General Zinni is “widely respected in the U.S. Military,” the Post concludes its report by saying that a retired three-star General said that Zinni’s concerns “are widely shared by many in the leadership of the military but aren’t universal.”

There are few doubts, however, among the covey of “chicken hawks” surrounding Mr. Bush. These men, including Vice President Dick Cheney, supported the Vietnam War in the Sixties but wanted other Americans to do the fighting.

There is not much time before Mr. Bush declares a war with scenarios far more costly, harmful and devastating then the “cake-walk” scenario that is the premise of Mr. Bush’s airborne electronic posse. It could be a war fraught with severe longer term “blowback” impacts on the U.S. and one that could seriously affect the economy, as Yale Professor Nordhaus warned recently in the New York Review of Books.

It is testimony to the inherent sense of the American people that, even in the midst of the Bush propaganda barrage, when asked if they would support a U.S. unilateral invasion, with large civilian casualities in Iraq, and significant casualties among our military personnel, a large majority says no.

More Americans are wondering why Bush wants peaceful dialogue with a North Korea that has more advanced arms, yet seeks war with a contained, weakened and surrounded Iraq? But then, when decisions are made in the gut, such inconsistencies can bound.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail