FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Not a Step in the Right Direction

In response to heavy public opposition to a unilateral executive war against Syria (yes, limited strikes on another country are certainly a “war in the legal sense), the Obama administration has given the appearance of a tip of the hat to Constitutional procedure by “seeking approval” from Congress.

I know quite a few people who, while still rightly opposed to intervention in Syria from a moral standpoint, have referred to this as “at least going in the right direction.”

I don’t.

In fact, beyond a temporary delay before the imperial president’s next foreign crime, this changes nothing. It’s a band-aid, at best.

Here’s three reasons why.

1. Dick, is that you?

The rhetoric coming from the “peace candidate” would have fit quite nicely anywhere in the Bush war years. When Obama says he doesn’t actually need permission from Congress to wage war against another country, and that he “always reserves the right and responsibility to act,” it may-well have been the words of Dick Cheney.

John Kerry, the reformed anti-war activist, might as well be Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz, or any of the other criminals of those unfortunate days.

FACT: These people don’t have principles or sound morals. They have power. And they want to use it. Asking for permission to declare war while claiming it’s not needed doesn’t give me warm fuzzies, it makes me angry.

You didn’t get a “Peace President.” You’ve been had.

2. In Any Case

This so-called constitutional process proposed by the Obama administration is wildly unconstitutional, at best. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t understand the constitutional underpinnings of congressional and executive war powers, so it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Here’s the short version.

The Constitution delegates the power to “declare war” to Congress. The President, then, has the power to wage the war once declared by Congress. Just because Congress “authorizes” something, does not mean it has fulfilled this requirement.

Usually, it’s just a sham.

In October, 2002, that’s exactly what happened. Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force Against Iraq. While it sure is nice that those politicians wanted us to think they were doing their job, making sure it was the representatives of the People making the determination whether or not the country would be engaged in war, they did nothing of the sort.

The important language from that AUMF is:

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to:

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq

No. That’s not constitutional. Not even close.

Congress didn’t declare war. They told George Bush, “You make the call. Let us know what you decide.”

That flies in the face of what James Madison had to say:

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war”

In ANY case.

Yeah, that includes the “case” where congress might say to the President, “you decide,” as happened in 2002.

Fast forward to today, and Barack Obama wants the same power that George Bush was handed. From the text of the president’s proposed AUMF for Syria:

(a) Authorization. — The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria in order to —

(1) prevent or deter the use or proliferation (including the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors), within, to or from Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction, including chemical or biological weapons or components of or materials used in such weapons; or

(2) protect the United States and its allies and partners against the threat posed by such weapons.

You see that? It’s the exact same thing. This would authorize the President to make the actual determination as to whether or not diplomacy or war will be what this country pursues.

James Madison said the executive doesn’t have that right – in any case.

I think I’m pretty safe siding with the “Father of the Constitution” over Bush and Obama on war powers.

3. Bad vs Bad

The so-called “more limited” AUMF proposed in the Senate is unconstitutional garbage as well.

The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to: (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria; (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.

If you believe that handing the president the same power to make the final determination over war is somehow a better situation, I’ve got some land on Saturn to sell you.

Just One Person?

There’s good reason to want a system where just one person would never have the power to determine if an entire country will go to war. To determine if you’ll have to pay for their killing. To determine, possibly, if you or your children may have to fight and die for their cause.

The Founders knew this because they experienced it.

You and I should know this too, because you and I are experiencing it first hand.

No one in the world wages more war than the United States of America. And it’s been like that for a long time.

On the one hand, I would argue that this “shoot first” mentality is not just morally wrong, it’s a complete failure. Well, unless of course success is measured by the amount of money they need to keep taking from you to hand over to the war machine.

On the other hand, this just reaffirms the fact that neither Congress nor the President should be trusted no matter who is in power.

These people will never stop the power and cash cow on their own. They need to be resisted.

I, for one, am ready to stand against them. Are you with me?

Michael Boldin is the founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center.  He welcomes your email at info@tenthamendmentcenter.com  

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail