President Barack Obama, in his speech Wednesday to make the case for a United States war on ISIS, suggested merely talking with some Congress members is enough to legitimate the war and invoked the Founders as supporters of worldwide US domination. In contrast to Obama’s assertions, the US Constitution places in Congress the war declaration power and the Founders largely prescribed a foreign policy centered on nonintervention.
Many people hoped in the early days of the United States that calls for war and foreign intervention would be squelched by the constitutional requirement that war not be pursued unless it is first declared by Congress. But, such declarations have become passé in the years since World War II as American presidents have tended to treat war as something solely within their own control.
Obama makes no mention in his speech of seeking a congressional declaration of war. Instead, he says that talking with a few members of Congress as he pursues the war is good enough to justify continuing and expanding the war. Obama states in his speech:
So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
Given that finding congressional members who will state their outright opposition to war on ISIS is not an easy task and that the US House of Representatives and Senate leadership has long supported Obama’s pursuit of the war, a congressional debate and vote on the war may place little restraint on Obama. Yet, even if the war were approved in House and Senate votes, the pre-vote debate would help the American people focus on the issues involved, and the vote would make pro-war Congress members take, instead of duck, responsibility for the war.
To meet, or at least approach, constitutional requirements, some Congress members are arguing that there needs to be a congressional war declaration, or even just an authorization, for Obama to continue to pursue or to escalate the war on ISIS. That is true as far as it goes; an embrace of the nonintervention is also needed.
As the US war on ISIS escalates, many Americans appear to have lost — even if only temporarily — their adherence to nonintervention. Obama’s withdrawal of his planned attack on Syria last year in the face of widespread public opposition suggests that Americans had been increasingly embracing nonintervention. But, Obama and his accomplices in politics, media, and industry regrouped and came back with a new plan to overcome American opposition to war. It seems that the roots for opposing war and supporting nonintervention are not yet strong enough to withstand this onslaught of propaganda promoting war on ISIS, including, alas, war in Syria.
Continue reading at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.