Without Congressional authorization, no one man should be allowed to take America into war. Senator Rand Paul has called on President Trump to come to Congress to seek authorization for any further action in Syria. Paul said “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked. The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate. Our prior interventions in this region have done nothing to make us safer, and Syria will be no different.”
Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, says that Trump could learn something about the Constitution from a chat with Senator Paul. He writes:
A central concern of the Founding generation, when writing the Constitution, was to ensure that no one man, or one man and his clique, could take the republic to war. To that end, the Constitution delegates the citizenry’s power to declare war solely to its servants in Congress, and, in doing so, uses language that makes it clear that the Congress cannot delegate this power to the executive branch of the government. The ability of a president to order military action was — and is — tightly limited to instances in which the United States is attacked or, perhaps, if a clear threat must be preempted.
Since 1955, however, every president and every Congress have acted in clear and deliberate violation of the Constitution’s allocation of war-making powers. In 1955, the Congress passed a resolution — called an “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” (AUMF) — that allowed President Eisenhower to do what he wanted, when he wanted to do it, with U.S. military forces in the defense of Formosa (Taiwan) against Mao’s China. Later, the Vietnam war began with another AUMF, and every other U.S. war since Vietnam has started with one, save for those which the president started off his own hook — the Obama/Clinton Libyan war, for example, — without even bothering to seek an unconstitutional delegation of the war-making power from Congress.
Your 6 April 2017 attack on a Syrian military airfield/chemical-storage depot, Mr. President, is the latest example of this unconstitutional war-making. The barrage of 60 cruise missiles — worth about $5.5 billion — was, as usual for the U.S. military, a feckless exercise in concrete-smashing. As in Bill Clinton’s Serbia war, the national government attacked a state that had not harmed the United States, and in which the republic has no genuine national interests at stake. All of this was done via the decision and then orders of one man — advised by his unelected advisers — for the U.S. military to conduct an unconstitutional act of offensive war, as if the republic is an absolute and so lawless monarchy.
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