Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

31 August 2013

Obama And Syria: Britain Has Helped Obama Rediscover The Constitution. No Need To Thank Us, America

By Dr Tim Stanley, The Telegraph

This afternoon, President Obama was 35 minutes late to deliver his statement on Syria to the media. Well, he likes to keep his fans waiting.

But when he did show up, the Prez put in a remarkable performance. Yes, Obama does believe Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people and, yes, he does want to do something about it. But rather than take immediate action, he's going to seek Congress' approval first. In the course of his statement, he name checked Britain and its own parliamentary vote on Thursday. So we basically taught Obama to respect his own constitution. No need to thank us, America.

Why has he done this? A few interpretations:

1. He wants to buy more time in which to make his case better.

2. He secretly hopes Congress votes no and he avoids getting involved in the conflict (don't forget, it was Cameron who was goading him for months to do something – Obama was always reluctant).

3. If Congress does vote yes, he presumes the Republicans will have to share the burden of a deeply unpopular action.

4. He intends to make some political gain by exposing the divisions within the Republican ranks over matters of war and peace. If this passes through Congress, it'll be thanks to an alliance of moderate Democrats and Republicans – exposing more maverick members of both parties and showing the world that the GOP contains some "unpatriotic, inhumane isolationists" (not my sentiments, but that's how it'll be sold to the media). Rand Paul will be on our TV screens a lot.

It's a gamble but it's a good one for democracy and a significant turn in US history.

It's true that both Bushes sought approval for wars in the Gulf, but the ugly tradition in American politics is for the President to do something and the Congress to then acquiesce afterwards. Now we're hopefully seeing the Congress reassert its constitutional authority as the part of government that decides who to bomb.

Conservatives should be grateful to Obama for this.

And, yes, to us Brits, too – because we led by example.

Those who opposed the war in Britain are also strengthened by Obama's decision. It proves that, no, Britain was not withdrawing from the world or acting crazy when it held a vote and voted no – it did something that the Congress of the last superpower will now do, too. If it's good enough for America then it's good enough for us and hopefully what we're seeing is a trend towards greater transparency in foreign policy and a larger role for legislatures in decision making. This isn't about isolationism: it's about a reviving democracy and exorcising the ghosts of Iraq.

One thing irritated, though: Obama referred to America as a constitutional democracy. It's a republic, sir, a republic. What grades did he get at college I wonder? Oh, wait, yeah…


'Many are of the opinion the War Powers Resolution is an unconstitutional infringement of the separation of powers, and of the executive prerogative of the President as CIC.'

- Tripwheeler

And, yet, not a single POTUS has challenged it.  Perhaps, Obama should do us all a favour and take it to the Supreme Court, no?

If the President has the ‘executive prerogative as CIC’ to act militarily as he sees fit, then why did the Founding Fathers give Congress the right to declare war?

Mr MADISON and Mr GERRY moved to insert ‘declare,’ striking out ‘make’ war, leaving to the executive the power 'to repel sudden attacks.' 

- Minutes from the Constitutional Convention, 17 August 1789 

The Framers’ entire purpose of substituting “declare” for “make” was to prevent the Executive from waging war without authorisation and unilaterally. As you can see from the following quote, Charles Pinkney was in the minority arguing for the placement of unilateral power to make war to be placed in the hands of the President solely.

'Mr Pinkney opposed the vesting this power in the Legislature. Its proceedings were too slow. It wd. meet but once a year. The Hs. of Reps. would be too numerous for such deliberations. The Senate would be the best depositary, being more acquainted with foreign affairs, and most capable of proper resolutions. If the States are equally represented in Senate, so as to give no advantage to large States, the power will notwithstanding be safe, as the small have their all at stake in such cases as well as the large States. It would be singular for one authority to make war, and another peace.'

- Minutes from the Constitutional Convention, 17 August 1789 

James Madison reported in the Federal Convention of 1787 that the phrase 'make war' was changed to 'declare war' in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks, but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress.

See Also:

No comments: