On Wednesday, I read an excellent column by Terry Jeffrey about the constitutionality of Obama’s decision “to order our military to intervene in Libya’s civil war.” (In what I write today, I will take it for granted that readers have taken the time to read Jeffrey’s succinct and accurate discussion.) Jeffrey rightly points out that “the Framers [of the U.S. Constitution] made clear they were giving Congress, not the president, the authority to initiate hostilities.” The framers recognized and granted the Executive’s essential prerogative to respond as necessary to attacks against the United States. But in leaving it to Congress to declare war, they withheld from the Executive branch the authority unilaterally to initiate hostilities in the absence of any attack.
Back in July 2009 I posted an entry on my blog discussing the then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s assertion that “all of America ends up at war when a president decides to send troops into combat.” In that piece I point out that:
The formal declaration of war is more than a legalistic artifact of international law and practice. Among other things, it signifies that the people recognize and accept the conditional impairment of liberties war necessarily entails. It also assures that the consent of the people will be sought when government plans the sustained exercise of one of its gravest and potentially most destructive powers. It is therefore a barrier against the arbitrary and incessant institution of perpetual war that is one of the standard means of imposing tyranny.
It’s a lamentable fact that for the past half-century and more the supposed representatives of the people have let the war-declaring power of Congress fade almost into oblivion. By legislation, resolution and consultation, they presumed to substitute for that power. This week the American people tasted the bitter fruit of this erosive abdication of constitutional responsibility. Obama initiated military action against Libya without even a nod to the constitutionally required initiative of the U.S. Congress. As he did so, he spoke of a U.N. resolution and the resolve of the international community, as though these inchoate entities have somehow acquired an authority that supersedes that of the institutions and procedures established by the Constitution of the United States.
From the outset, Obama and his cohorts have made it apparent that they reject the objective of limited government the U.S. Constitution is intended to implement. From Obama’s stubborn disdain for the clearly stated constitutional requirements of the office he claims, to his faction’s disregard for the Constitution’s restrictions on voting representation in Congress, the Obama faction has been inclined to erode the constraints put in place to safeguard the sovereign liberty of the American people. As protégés of leftists like Saul Alinsky, the Obama faction’s cohorts obviously understand that “despotic power rarely comes on all at once. By seemingly small usurpations it accustoms people to accept the abuse of power until, encouraged to bolder action, it can eventually be stopped only by major confrontation fraught with the possibility of civil conflict.”
Is it just a coincidence, then that the latest effort completely to erase a constitutional requirement comes in the context of asserting that the so-called international community may at will disregard international borders and the prerogatives of sovereignty in order to intervene in civil unrest in any nation in the world? Far from uniting for peace to oppose an aggressor’s contempt for the borders and sovereignty of other states, this involves uniting for aggressive war, in pursuance of actions that express the so-called international community’s contempt for those very attributes. And it is done on the basis of explicitly reasserting as legitimate the motive for aggressive war (protecting people from their government) that Hitler frequently invoked to justify the German acts of aggression that led to the World War from whose devastating consequences the experiment of the United Nations emerged.
Shortsighted folly led our representatives to allow the erosion of the Congress’ constitutional power to authorize aggressive war. Now Obama moves to fabricate and legitimize some pretended authority in the U.N. or the “international community” to wage aggressive war against any government they claim is a threat to its own people. Will the same kind of foolishness keep many Americans people from thinking through the implications of his action? Are Americans still so complacent as to believe that our own sovereignty will never be threatened by this newly minted aggressive power? Has the crisis in our affairs awakened so few to the vulnerable condition of our country?
Simply the credible possibility (as reported in this Washington Times piece) that the money crisis of 2008 resulted from a consciously implemented act of economic aggression against the United States should warn us against such stupid complacency. But when we hear Obama faction cohort (and frequent visitor to the Obama White House) Stephen Lerner talking about ways to induce chaos in our country by collapsing the American economy, the warning becomes imperative advice. As the key speaker in a March 19, 2011, conference hosted by The Left Forum at Pace University, Mr. Lerner felt comfortable enough in a closed-door session to lay out his step-by-step plan to “put a boot in the wheel” of the American economy – crashing the stock market and orchestrating a complete banking collapse – in an effort to force Marxism upon the nation.
If people like Lerner are thinking about ways to plunge the nation into chaos, why is it so hard for some people to realize that other forces inimical to the liberty and sovereignty of the American people are probably doing the same thing? Why is it so hard to consider the possibility that the Obama faction’s determined insistence on bankrupting the country has ideological motives? Why is it so hard to imagine the prospect of deteriorating economic prospects that lead to civil unrest (whether spontaneous or induced) in the U.S.? And finally, why must we assume that it is just a coincidence that this train of events could produce exactly the conditions in which the Obama faction’s ideologically rooted contempt for constitutional constraints would find room for the kind of bold maneuvers that tyrants use to dispense with the pretense of respecting any constraint but raw power?