Monday, July 14, 2008

In the past

While looking for something else, I just ran across an editorial I wrote for the Sept. 11, 2002, issue of the Outpost. Looking at one's own outdated punditry can be humbling, but this crucial passage seems to hold up pretty well:
Overseas, we appear to be moving from the War on Terror toward a large-scale conventional war on a people against whom we bear no grudge. They are badly led, to be sure, and concerted international pressure to force reforms is in order, even the threat of military action.
But we must not allow ourselves to be unilaterally plunged into a war whose grounds are unsupported by hard – and public – evidence and that has not been declared by Congress. And if we do go to war, we must have clearly defined goals and a well articulated exit strategy. Nobody must be left behind.

Still makes sense to me.


Chuck Rightmire said...

David: It made sense when you wrote it and it makes sense now. Actually, then it was a position; now it's a fact.

Mark T said...

Well, I think that if you buy into the concept of a "war on terror", you're susceptible to just about anything. After all, claimng a right to attack anyone on the face of the earth at the whim of the executive pretty much gave Bush all he needed to justify the attack on Iraq. So when you implicitly endorsed the war on terror, you endorsed Iraq.

David said...

Mark, You seem to have missed the part where I said that we should not go to war without a declaration of war by Congress. If you know anything about me, you should know that I don't think wars should be started by executive whim.

Eric said...

I distinctly remember Congress giving President Bush authorization to go to war.

Mark T said...

We agree then that the so-called "War on Terror" is not specifically a declared war by congress. I go further - I think it is a cover for a pwer grab by the executive that succeeds because the American people are so easily frightened. What was it Mencken said about hobgoblins?

David said...

Eric, Your memory is indistinct. The resolution said:
"The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."

To me, that falls considerably short of a declaration of war. And the difference isn't merely semantic, because the next provision in the resolution says that within 48 hours of using force, "the President shall ... make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone" will not adequately protect against the threat by Iraq.

This provision allowed certain members of Congress, such as Hillary Clinton, to claim that her vote was only to give the president room to negotiate, not for war.

I think there is no question that the founders intended (and prudence requires) that wars be entered into unambiguously and directly without preconditions or secondary provisos.

Mark, Congress did allow the use of force against terrorists, but in my view wars can only be declared against countries. Terrorists are not a country.

It isn't clear to me why any resolution was needed against terrorists because terrorism already is a crime, and the president has the authority to enforce laws. I guess the idea was to make Congress feel better and to establish compliance with the War Powers Resolution.

Eric said...

So david - who holds the most blame here in your view - Congress, or the Whitehouse?

David said...

Eric, Both the White House and the president have an obligation to uphold the Constitution, so there is plenty of blame to go around. But I guess I blame the president less for overreaching -- a natural tendency that the founding fathers were aware of and tried to guard against -- than Congress for allowing it to happen.