Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ron Paul and that pesky Constitution


Back in 2002, Texas Congressman Ron Paul talke about the Constitution and declarations of war.

Two weeks ago, during a hearing in the House International Relations committee, I attempted to force the committee to follow the Constitution and vote to declare war with Iraq. The language of Article I, section 8, is quite clear: only Congress has the authority to declare war. Yet Congress in general, and the committee in particular, have done everything possible to avoid making such a declaration. Why? Because members lack the political courage to call an invasion of Iraq what it really is- a war- and vote yes or no on the wisdom of such a war. Congress would rather give up its most important authorized power to the President and the UN than risk losing an election later if the war goes badly....

Sadly, the leadership of both parties on the International Relations committee fails to understand the Constitution. One Republican member stated that the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war is an anachronism and should no longer be followed, while a Democratic member said that a declaration of war would be "frivolous." I don’t think most Americans believe our Constitution is outdated or frivolous, and they expect Congress to follow it.

When Congress issued clear declarations of war against Japan and Germany during World War II, the nation was committed and victory was achieved. When Congress shirks its duty and avoids declaring war, as with Korea, and Vietnam, the nation is less committed and victory is elusive.

I don't know if Paul's cause and effect is accurate - if we had formally declared war in Korea and Vietnam, would we have achieved victory? Didn't the 1991 Persian Gulf War achieve its stated objectives? Yet his Constitutional case is compelling.


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