Thursday, November 08, 2007

George Will On Congress's Unused War Powers

How'd I miss this?


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

There's some noise in the leftosphere blandly relating this to Bush. But if there are offenders (which I don't think there are), they actually seem to be Truman and Clinton, who were the ones who, according to Will, put troops on the ground without congressional assent.

Will: Unless and until Congress stops prattling about presidential "usurpation" of power and asserts its own, it will remain derelict regarding its duty of mutual participation in war-making.

From the "Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq", (itself authorizing that little adventure):

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40);

and which includes a direct reference to the "nullity" [per Will] that is the War Powers Resolution. So we're constitutionally clear on Iraq, unlike Korea and Kosovo, per Will.

To this we add Kyl-Lieberman, which Hillary Herself Clinton voted for, which urges the president to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization. Per the aforementioned Iraq resolution, recognizing a constitutional authority, and a legislative authority per Public Law 107-40, the president may employ force against Iran, at least in the context of the IRG. [Follow the interesting link to observe how presidents aren't the only ones who use "signing statements."]

We end up with something quite similar to America's very first international problem, the Barbary Pirates, which congress dealt with similarly, authorizing force but not declaring war.

[This would be the First Barbary War, 1801-05, which included the Battle of Derna, which we all know included the storied "shores of Tripoli" of the Marine Hymn.]

Will is half-right then, about the current prattling about presidential "usurpation" of power, but there's certainly no constitutional crisis, and the congress giving a generic assent to presidential muscle-flexing is not the least bit unprecedented since the Founding era.

I suspect the proposed bill, The Constitutional War Powers Resolution [I love how they name stuff] would meet the same fate as when some GOPers went after the Kosovo adventure in Campbell v. Clinton under the WPR. The Supreme Court declined cert, since there were other political remedies available, namely the good ol' power of the purse.

Re nailing Iran, Mother Jones has the rest; I have nothing to disagree with there.

[Interesting that I found so little reaction to Will's piece on the internet---it indicates nobody listens to him anymore. What I didn't know was that it was Congress that forbade intervention in Rwanda in 1994. Perhaps Bill Clinton is too hard on himself about doing nothing about it, unless he faults himself for not going to bat on the issue. He could and perhaps should blame Congress, but then again, it was in Democrat hands at the time...]

5:01 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Uh...well, again, I think your criticism here takes off from a misconception, Tom.

I haven't heard anyone say that this is Bush's fault. Everyone seems to be well aware of the fact that this has been a problem at least since Nixon.

The point most are making is that things have to be corrected. Bush just happens to be exceptionally incompetent and dishonest, so people are finally stirred to act whereas in the past they've been inclined to say "eh, it'll probably be o.k."

In some ways the Barbary Coast War is a good analogy--but, again: trusting Jefferson with such powers is one thing. Trusting e.g. Bush with them is something else entirely.

Clinton may be hard on himself in part because his administration is said to have actively tried to keep even other countries from sending troops to Rwanda. Clinton can be excused for not acting because the GOP would have eviscerated him. But interceding to stop others from helping--if, indeed, that did happen--seems inexcusable.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Clinton can be excused for not acting because the GOP would have eviscerated him.

This corresponds to no conception of courage or leadership of which I'm aware. And it was a Democrat congress in 1994, no?

At least Bush...oh, never mind.

I don't blame Clinton. As with most everything, we I blame France.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Congress =/= GOP.

Elementary civics...

1:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Not following you here. Sorry.

4:47 PM  

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