Posted by: bridget | 30 January 2007

War Powers, Continued

Senators are asserting their right to block President Bush’s decisions regarding the military in Iraq.  Congress stopped the Viet Nam war by cutting off financing, but is reluctant to do that here, fearing the political fallout of  not supporting the troops.  Arguments advanced in favour of the Art. I power grab:

“I don’t know of any ground for a belief that the president has any more special expertise in whether to continue a war than do the members of Congress..” Louis Fischer said that the title of “commander in chief” was meant by the framers to emphasize unity of command and civilian control over the military. “The same duty commanders have to the president, the president has to the elected representatives.”

Pure nonsense.  Let’s ensure that the military is under civilian control by giving the President the title of “Commander in Chief.”  Really, the framers were poets, not statesmen.   Mr. Fischer sounds all zen-like, but that’s not constitutional law so much as a handy reinterpretation of the document to suit one’s needs.

The Constitution does not base its decision on “special expertise” (an idea coming from the vast array of extra/un-constitutional administrative agencies), rather, the idea is that the Executive branch should be the leader of the militia.  Just as the Framers were concerned with aggregating power in one branch, they were also concerned about splitting power, which could lead to inabiltity to make a decision – that is why they considered, but rejected, the idea of a dual presidency.  The militia does not have 536 commanders in chief; it has one.  The Constitution could not be more clear on the subject, whether or not that happens to be convenient for modern liberals.

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