April 13, 2017

IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING:

Trump's Syria Strike Was Constitutional (JOHN YOO, April 13, 2017, National Review)

This time, President Trump has the Constitution about right. His exercise of war powers rests firmly in the tradition of American foreign policy. Throughout our history, neither presidents nor Congresses have acted under the belief that the Constitution requires a declaration of war before the U.S. can conduct military hostilities abroad. We have used force abroad more than 100 times but declared war in only five cases: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars, and World Wars I and II. 

Without any congressional approval, presidents have sent forces to battle Indians, Barbary pirates, and Russian revolutionaries; to fight North Korean and Chinese Communists in Korea; to engineer regime changes in South and Central America; and to prevent human-rights disasters in the Balkans. Other conflicts, such as the 1991 Persian Gulf war, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, and the 2003 Iraq War, received legislative "authorization" but not declarations of war. The practice of presidential initiative, followed by congressional acquiescence, has spanned both Democratic and Republican administrations and reaches back from President Trump to Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. [...]


Those in the pro-Congress camp call upon the anti-monarchical origins of the American Revolution for support. If the Framers rebelled against King George III's dictatorial powers, surely they would not give the president much authority. It is true that the revolutionaries rejected the royal prerogative, and they created weak executives at the state level. Americans have long turned a skeptical eye toward the growth of federal powers. But this may mislead some to resist the fundamental difference in the Constitution's treatment of domestic and foreign affairs. For when the Framers wrote the Constitution in 1787, they rejected these failed experiments and restored an independent, unified chief executive with its own powers in national security and foreign affairs. 

The most important of the president's powers are those of commander in chief and chief executive. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 74: 

The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength, and the power of directing and employing the common strength forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority. 

Presidents should conduct war, he wrote, because they could act with "decision, activity, secrecy and dispatch." In perhaps his most famous words, Hamilton wrote: "Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. . . . It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks."

Sadly for England, the Executive is more monarchical than the King.

Posted by at April 13, 2017 6:57 PM

  

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