2007-03-28

Was the invasion of Iraq unconstitutional? No. 2

I wrote the other day a piece that essentially argues that the invasion, defeat, occupation and control of Iraq by America in 2003 was essentially a war. And if it was a war, then surely Congress needed to make a formal declaration. This is according to the Constitution, which states:

The Congress shall have power:
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water
;

I argued that the power to declare war is in the hands of congress, while the waging of war is directly up to the president (who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces). I also argued that the reason this is so was probably because the framers of the US constitution did not want a king who would declare war on a whim, but rather have war declared in a sober and realistic manner.

It seems as though the Federalist Paper Mo. 69 supports my view. In this paper, written in 1788 by Alexander Hamilton, compares the US President with European Monarchs thus:

The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a QUALIFIED negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an ABSOLUTE negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of DECLARING war, and of RAISING and REGULATING fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the SOLE POSSESSOR of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments.

So, according to Alexander Hamilton, the executive cannot declare war. The president does not have the authority to either declare war or wage war without congressional approval. George W. Bush did have congressional approval to use force in 2003, but not to wage war and completely defeat Iraq, nor remove Saddam Hussein from office, nor dissolve the Iraqi government, nor to order his troops to occupy and control the nation.

Therefore - Bush has failed to comply with the constitution, a document he swore to uphold, and has committed a high crime. He should be impeached.


From the One Salient Overlord Department

© 2007 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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1 comment:

Dave Lankshear said...

This is not a pro-Bush or pro-war thing, but surely if it were as cut and dried as that, at least one democrat legal adviser would have woken up one night with fevered excitement, and said, "Diddley doodley diddley! Why I think our beloved Republican President has left himself wide open here by breaching the fundamental constitutional procedures for going to war."

I wonder what the caveat is, because there most certainly has to be one or the world would be a slightly happier place. I know there would be a new bounce in my shoes if George were finally impeached.