The president claims that Congress’s authorizations in 2001 and 2002 for the wars against Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein can be stretched to cover his current campaign [against ISIS]. – The New York Times
The U.S. Constitution is gone. Kaput. For years it stood as the bedrock of a republic that kept its government chained. For years the constitution limited government intervention, letting the free market operate instead of domestic, well-connected crony business interests.
Likewise, elected leaders consulted the constitution when government intervention abroad was considered. There once was a time in America when Congress debated the merits and risks of a government’s most pressing issue: war.
In these days of past, Congress – fulfilling their constitutional duties set forth in Article I, Section 8 – would be the ones to declare war.
The president could not act unilaterally to enter into hostilities.
That time is no more. Now, as it has been for decades, the people’s power through their representatives has essentially been eliminated. The U.S. is facing what Washington, Jefferson, and the other founders warned so strongly against: the return of the king to the former colonies.
All that’s needed is for the president – just a single person — to call for war, impacting the lives of millions, both at home and abroad.
Regarding the current operation in Iraq against ISIS, this Times article highlights a 28-year old Army intelligence officer, Captain Nathan Michael Smith, and his struggle with the constitutionality of the conflict. With the president still operating on the post-9/11 authorizations for war, Smith’s argument is that congress should reauthorize military operations.
And since the plaintiff has taken an oath to support and defend the constitution, he has brought forth a federal lawsuit to independently examine these arguments.
Ever the supporter of a more powerful executive branch when a Democrat has the reins, the Times reporter Bruce Ackerman asks, “Does the captain’s participation in this undeclared war involve him in a mission to destroy, not ‘defend,’ the Constitution?”
Hardly. By the letter of the law, the captain is correct. There’s the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which forces the president to obtain congressional approval of hostilities within 60 days of the conflict. With a White House-declared interruption in fighting in Iraq, the time is due for a renewal from congress.
It’s worthy to note that this war powers legislation was introduced only in response to presidential wrong-doing – Nixon’s expansion of operations in Vietnam – and should not set a precedent that overrides the original, Congressional war powers in Article I.
But, the precedent has been set. The wheels have been in motion to empower the king executive and his merry band of court jesters – leaders of foreign governments, unelected bureaucrats, and well-connected crony war profiteers. They are the ones with real power today in America.
And let’s not forget the actual nine-member court jesters who in theory split power with the executive and congressional branches. Ackerman writes that if the U.S. Congress and president cannot overcome their impasse on a war resolution, it is up to these ultimate guardians of the U.S. Constitution.
Captain Smith, one of the mere commoners, is unlikely to have a case. The deck is stacked, but no one seems comfortable to call out the swindler at the table.
The government’s heralded balance of power that all U.S. school children are taught is the gospel does not exist in reality. The process of how a bill becomes a law and visits to capitol buildings to marvel at the workings of government and meet representatives are still cornerstones of American’s education. Social studies teachers still march to work and espouse the great deeds of the U.S. Constitutional republic.
Indeed, all of the lessons about government that we’re taught as children are a farce. More so than ever, the people through their representatives have less of a say in nearly all aspects of life as the king executive runs a shadow government.
Nearly a decade and a half after the post-9/11 war resolutions from congress, despite the unconstitutionality, President Obama still cites this as his authorization for continued operations in Iraq. This action represents the continued tilt of power towards the executive branch, essentially crowning the president and proving that America’s constitutional republic exists only on paper.