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We Want Our Power Back! March 6, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Politiocal Philosophy.
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The Constitution makes it clear that the power to declare war rests solely with the representatives of the people.  In Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 among a long list of things only Congress is empowered to do rests this long ignored gem, “To declare war.”

Ever since President Truman decided for domestic political reasons that it was more expedient to fight a war in Korea without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress Presidents have abrogated onto themselves the right to take us to war.  Like the divine right monarchs we fought a revolution to escape these imperial presidents commit America to what have become endless wars for peace.

We may be on the verge of an historic debate about who can send American troops into harm‘s way.  Citing section 2(c) of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 the Socialist Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders has joined together with the Senate’s strongest defender of the Constitution, Utah’s Mike Lee, along with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to introduce a resolution calling for an end to America’s support for the Saudi War in Yemen.

For almost three years, we have offered logistical and intelligence support to Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states in Yemen fighting to restore Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government. Hadi has fled abroad and Houthi forces are attempting to take control of the entire country.  In a symbolic vote in November, the House declared by a tally of 366-30 that U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s civil war is not authorized. Troops are allowed to fight Al Qaeda, the bill stated, but not Shiite Muslim rebels.  The nonbinding resolution adopted 366-30, does not call for a halt to the American support but publicly acknowledges the Pentagon has been sharing targeting information and refueling warplanes that Saudi Arabia and other allies are using to attack Houthi rebels in a conflict that is widely considered a proxy war with Iran — and a humanitarian disaster.

While mostly symbolic, the House vote was seen as a key victory for members of both parties who believe Congress, which is relegated the power to declare war in the Constitution, needs to reauthorize U.S. military operations overseas, which have expanded to many more countries and conflicts than envisioned a decade and half ago when Congress last voted for the use of force.

The Defense Department’s acting general counsel, William S. Castle sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a letter criticizing the resolution on Tuesday.  His letter maintains that the U.S. support does not count as “hostilities” because American forces are not having exchanges of fire with the rebels, known as the Houthis, or commanding the coalition. It also suggests that the resolution threatens American authority to combat the local branch of the Islamic State ― and even holds that Congress cannot end the policy because it is the president’s prerogative, adopting an expansive view of presidential control over war-making.

At stake is a debate the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the Senate for decades over how America wages war.

Sanders said Wednesday, “We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force in this conflict, the United States’ involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorized, and U.S. military support of the Saudi coalition must end.”  Lee said the resolution will allow Congress to reassert its authority over foreign policy by voting on whether to withdraw American forces currently aiding the coalition.

Will it be possible in this day of swamp draining and populist activism to claw back this vital power from a runaway executive branch?  If it is maybe Congress will finally get the backbone necessary to start reigning in the nine black-robed Supremes who think they are the real rulers of the country.   Maybe we’ll finally remind the overlords that it’s We the People who own the sovereignty, we just lent them a little to do some very specific jobs and we want our power back!

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens


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