chorus of voices calling for the United States to attack Iraq grows
louder. Recent weeks had seen growing controversy concerning the wisdom
of such an attack, including controversy over the need for congressional
approval for an invasion. The war hawk TV pundits have been busy working
to quell the controversy by insisting the President has complete authority
to wage war without congressional involvement.
crux of their remarks is that we should not question whether
the U.S. will go to war with Iraq, but only how and when the war should
whether to invade Iraq is precisely the question, and only Congress
can answer it. The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority
to declare war. The President cannot wage war legally without a congressional
declaration. His status as commander-in-chief gives him authority
only to execute war, not initiate it. The law in Article I, section
8, is quite clear. The undeclared wars of the 20th century may provide
precedent for unilateral action by the President, but it is an illegal
that most in Congress would support an invasion of Iraq, so why cant
we simply agree to follow the Constitution and vote to declare war?
rule of law separates civilized societies from despotic societies.
Unlike Iraq, the United States is a nation of laws, not men. We are
blessed to live under the Constitution, rather than under a King or
dictator. Yet if we blatantly violate the Constitution by pursuing
an undeclared war, we violate the rule of law. We invite the President,
and future Presidents, to act in an imperial manner. We damage
the separation of powers that is so critical to our freedom. We act
more like Iraq than the United States of America when we ignore the
puzzled that Congress is so willing to give away one of its most important
powers. Why do members of Congress from both parties, most of whom
work incessantly to INCREASE the scope of congressional powers, suddenly
refuse to wield power in one area where they have legitimate legislative
authority? It mostly has to do with cowardice and politics. You can
bet Republicans would be demanding congressional involvement if Clinton
was in office.
solution is simple. Follow the Constitution, debate the wisdom of
a war in Iraq, and publicly record a vote on a declaration of war.
Let Congress do its job. The young men and women who will be called
upon to fight for the Constitution in Iraq deserve to see it followed