Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


The New Precedent on War Powers

"No more ignoring the law when it's convenient. That is not who we are...We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers." ~Senator Barack Obama, August, 2007.
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." ~Senator Barack Obama, December, 2007.

From now on, citing President Obama's entrance into the Libyan Civil War as precedent, American presidents will now be able to unilaterally wage war or target bombing against any nation or any individual at any time. Since the end of the Second World War, the necessity of of a congressional declaration of war has been removed as a needless technicality. The War Powers Resolution, keeping a slight congressional check on the martial power of the Executive Branch since Vietnam, was successfully used by the likes of Bill Clinton and George Bush in their campaigns abroad, both gaining congressional authorization within the 60 day limit. Now, like the formal declaration of war, the War Powers Resolution is but a needless technicality. Without congressional oversight, most of the "goals" that President Obama gave us in his after-the-fact justification of the humanitarian action war have changed-- we are now actively seeking regime change, we are doing far more than enforcing a no-fly zone, and there is no time limit or endgame in sight.

Congress, for its part, is and will remain subservient to this due to the politics involved (certainly good use of the Obama White House's mantra of never letting a good crisis go to waste); the sole power they have left is the power of the purse, which they will never invoke due to not wanting to pull the rug out beneath the military's feet. What strikes me as odd is that Congress would have certainly approved the military intervention had they been asked to formally do so as they did for Iraq, so there is really no pressing reason why their role in war-making should have been so carelessly cast aside. No matter, now-- precedent is precedent when it comes to the powers of the Executive Branch in our nation, and we shall now have to deal with the results until future members of Congress rediscover the ambition and manliness that is supposed to make checks and balances work. I'm not holding my breath. 
Categories > Presidency

Discussions - 1 Comment

Since Goodwin Liu was shot down, maybe Obama will nominate Chemerinsky. Chemerinsky is unlikely to give Obama or Congress a pass on this one, and it might be interesting to see how it played out.

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