Is Congress Alive?

According to the Constitution, Congress declares war. That is a nice idea, with the potential to put some professional thought into the most critical of all national security decisions, but today’s Imperial Presidency has filled the vacuum left by Congressional laziness and turned the Constitutional obligation into little more than a myth.

No excuse exists for a unilateral Presidential decision to launch a military attack on another country that is neither posing a direct and imminent security threat to the U.S. nor even posing such a threat to any other identifiable entity. If the White House had time to notify Moscow, it had time to request legal authorization from Congress. War is not the President’s private affair. No member of Congress has any business leaving town this weekend: it is time for Congress to take a stand on the U.S. wars in Syria and Yemen…or is it just a “fake legislature?”


Oct 15 Update:

Then came weeks of inflammatory rhetoric against Pyongyang combined with personal insults of its leader guaranteed to raise tensions, culminating–to date–with a blunt warning by the GOP Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker that Trump was sending us down the road to war. By this point, the Administration had also handed Saudi Arabia a cool $100 B in armaments to ensure that it not run out of bombs for its air war on Yemen, and the Administration was proudly undermining the Six Power nuclear agreement with Iran. Corker pointedly amplified on his warning a few days later by noting the perilous Administration tendency toward simplistic binary choices on foreign policy. In addition to Senator Corker’s double warning came a small but noteworthy substantive step from House Minority Leader Pelosi, who called for reforming the stunningly dangerous 1946 law permitting the President unilaterally to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Six months after I posed the question about Congressional capacity to assume its responsibility for oversight over U.S. wars, small but bipartisan signs can be detected. Now, will Senator Corker and Minority Leader Pelosi take follow-up action to flesh out legislative proposals, and will anyone else in Congress bestir him- or herself to address the lack of Congressional oversight over U.S. war-making?


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