CONGRESS HOLDS THE KEY TO ENDING WAR
Despite the near universal scorn with which most members of Congress hold our Constitution, it is still the law of the land. And while it may appear to be all but dead, the document contains a number of powerful tools that can be used to beat back the powers of darkness that have overtaken this country.
The Constitution gives Congress all the power it needs, as well as a mandate, to end American imperialism – be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the other 140 countries in which we have left our troops to rot - no matter what a warmongering President, or his gang of bloodthirsty followers, may say. We just need to find enough in Congress who have the courage to use that power.
With that being said, it might be helpful to provide a summary of the congressional powers as they pertain to allowing presidents to invade small, unarmed desert nations 8,000 miles away.
The short version, and excuse me for shouting, is… JUST SAY NO!!!
But, let’s go back to the beginning.
Our founders, after fighting a bloody revolution against an imperialist empire, had no intention of allowing our presidents to run around the world shooting up the place whenever they felt the urge. To that end, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive authority to:
That pretty much sums up all the powers necessary to suppress insurrections, repel invasions, fund and regulate the army, and declare war. That also happens to be the entirety of those powers as well. Notice it does not say anything about overthrowing evil dictators, or spreading “freedom and democracy” throughout the Middle East.
Now, take a look
at the war-making powers that have been assigned to the President:
In other words, the powers of the President are just about zilch. Granted, whoever wrote that could have done a better job defining “commander in chief,” but it is clear that when it comes to regulating the military and declaring wars, Congress makes all the rules, leaving the president with virtually no authority. The founders packed any presidential war-making powers inside of a tightly sealed box the size of a thimble, and gave him only one thing to do in case of war – act as “commander in chief” if Congress ever decides to start one.
So, how did we wind up in such a mess with the occupation of Iraq, where the President decided when to invade, how to fight, and when we get to come home? It is because the rules outlined above were turned completely upside down. We let a President, a completely mad one at that, go off and start a war. Is there any wonder why the Iraqi occupation has turned into such a nightmare?
At the core of the Iraqi quagmire is House Joint Resolution 114, which was passed by Congress on October 2, 2002. This resolution was so unconstitutional on it’s face, with the U.N. referenced over 20 times, that it seems like our Congress is operating under a different set of laws than the ones we thought they were. (Which is more than likely the case.) Those who voted to pass HJ Res. 114 broke the law, plain and simple. At the same time, they betrayed the oath they swore to defend the Constitution.
Here is how things got so far off track. Congress has the exclusive power to declare war. There is no legal option for turning that power over to the President just because Congress lacks the courage to come right out and declare a war. Well, in an absolutely spineless move, Congress turned that war-making power over to the President anyway, and the disastrous results we see today were all but inevitable.
But, the good news is that, even within this total sellout of the Constitution, there is a silver bullet available in HJ Res. 114 that allows Congress to stuff our little tyrant back into his box.
This is the entirety of the "AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES" contained in HJ Res. 114:
That’s it. Those are the only two conditions that allowed the president to usurp the power of Congress. As badly as the resolution was written, and as unconstitutional as it was for Congress to abdicate the power to declare war, it was not a willy-nilly authorization to invade an unarmed country that posed NO threat to us. Nowhere within the authorization is there any authority for an invasion: to free the Iraqi people from an evil dictator, to spread “freedom and democracy,” or to fight “them” over there rather than over here.
The justifications to invade Iraq were somewhat precise and narrowly defined. Clearly, neither of the two conditions for the use of force were met. The Iraqis posed absolutely no threat to us, and they had none of the weapons banned by the U.N. resolutions. Which makes the invasion completely illegal!
It is beginning to look like even some of the really dumb ones, like former Senator John Edwards, are starting to get it. During the presidential campaign, Edwards had about a thousand chances to correctly answer the question, “If you knew then what you know now, would you still have voted for the war?” He could never get it right.
The correct answer, of course, would be:
Well, with 2,100 dead Americans, over 50,000 dead Iraqis, and $300 billion in debt to show for the invasion, it is better that they are finally starting to figure this out – rather than “staying the course” to total disaster. It is time for the leaders of “both” parties in Congress to sit the President down and give him a stern talking to. Something like this would be helpful:
Will Congress step it up and fix the terrible wrong they have inflicted on our country? (And on Iraq?) Certainly, the members of Congress have all the authority they need to take back control of this war anytime they want. They let this happen – and they are the ones who need to make this one right.
Can enough of them put aside their petty little differences and come together on this? Not unless they understand in no uncertain terms that they will be punished next November if they refuse to act immediately. And the only way they are going to hear that message is if a whole lot of us get in contact with them very soon. Ordinarily, I consider writing or calling our Congressmen to be a complete waste of time. However, we definitely have them running scared this time – especially the Republicans. If the intensity of our outcries is loud enough, they will have no choice but to listen.
Congress holds the key to ending the war. Let’s make them use it while we have them on the ropes.
© 2005 David Brownlow - All Rights Reserved
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David Brownlow, a regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, is the Executive Director of Life Support, an Oregon based "No Abortion, No Excuses" anti-abortion organization that is focused on eliminating all government funded child-killing. David, an engineer, former Constitution Party candidate, and 25 year political activist, resides in Damascus, Oregon with his wife Suzanne and their four children.
Certainly, the members of Congress have all the authority they need to take back control of this war anytime they want. They let this happen – and they are the ones who need to make this one right.