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September 2, 2013
Should congress give presidents--esp. Obama--a blank check to bomb?
Posted by Laura
Our old friend Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard posts ("Congressional Republicans: All hail Ceaser!)" an excerpt from an essay by James Ceaser of the University of Virginia on the upcoming Syria vote. Ceaser argues, and Kristol agrees, that Republicans should support a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria because to do otherwise would harm President Obama's credibility, and thus U.S. credibility. Despite his foreign policy "blunders, fecklessness, arrogance, or naiveté...the nation and our allies will be at further risk if the world sees a presidency that is weakened...." One of the more astounding lines: "The weaker the president’s credibility on the world scene, the more the need to swallow and do what will not weaken it further. President Obama is the only president we have. That remains the overriding fact." Gee, thanks for clarifying.

If the standard is "We have to support the President so he won't be weak on the world stage," then what's the point of an opposition party? And if this is such a great idea, why didn't the Founders just give the President authority to support military action anytime and anywhere? Obviously, the Founders believed that it was important for Congress to keep an eye on the President's military adventures. Remember that under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress may "raise and support Armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years." The obvious purpose of this provision is to make sure that President would have to seek Congressional approval for the Army's budget at least once every two years. And that means that the Founders did not intend to give the President a blank check on military issues, but intended to make sure that he could only spend money that Congress had given him. So the notion that Congress should do whatever the President wants in matters of foreign policy – just because he's the President – plainly contradicts the governing scheme laid out in the Constitution.

Instead of rolling over and doing whatever the President wants, members should make up their own mind about what is best for the Country – that's what they were elected to do. Maybe this means that the rest of the world has to get used to an America that doesn't bomb people so quickly as it once did. But given the mess we are in, and the disasters that resulted from the old bombing policy, that might be a very good thing. Remember: the power and resources of the United States are the sole creation of the American people, who made all the money that makes it possible for American politicians to fret and strut upon the world stage. American power should be used solely for the benefit of the American people, not to make folks in Washington feel important.
09/2/13 12:45 PM
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