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.

 

May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail