Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Freedom to Declare War

A bipartisan War Powers Commission recommended repeal of the War Powers Act of 1973. The act passed as the Vietnam War drew to a close and was intended to limit the President's ability to go to war with Congress' explicit approval. The U.S. Constitution clearly shows Congress responsible for declaring war and the Presidency as the Commander in Chief. Yet, in thirty five years the Supreme Court never weighed in on the contentious issue.

Ex-Secretaries of State James A. Baker and Warren Christopher don't want the Supremes to address the issue. Baker called that strategy "a futile undertaking" in a USA Today article. On Morning Joe he noted this problem existed since our nation's founding. Ironically, Thomas Jefferson's university sponsored the commission via the University of Virginia's Miller School of Public Affairs.

UVA is my alma mater and it recently took a turn toward The Carlyle Group and private equity. James Baker's ties to Carlyle are long and murky. While Mr. Jefferson was part of the landed gentry (while the super rich are doing quite well), he wanted separation of powers. What Mr. Baker and Christopher refer to as a glaring error, was our Founding Father's intent. I find it interesting that the dispute resolvers, the Supreme Court, stand squarely on the sidelines.

James A. Baker has a clear history of using U.S. military might to open free markets for U.S. companies abroad. The Republican Party pushed the consolidation of Executive power the last eight years. It seems we have more of the same in this Commission's report.

Excessive partisanship can manifest itself just as easily with a new Congressional Committee as it can with Congressional leadership. The Executive is free to consult with whomever they want on issues. They can do so with or without the recommended War Powers Consultation Act of 2009. Giving the current President more power is a supremely bad idea, especially given his ability to serially abuse it. I don't think John McCain or Barack Obama need it, either. The Supreme Court should do the right thing, their job. This issue needs constitutional clarification and the sooner, the better. If not, Thomas Jefferson might suggest a rebellion to be in order.