by Dish Staff
“Congress does not have the political will to approve a War Powers Resolution when the American people have very little appetite for war,” said Ron Bonjean, a former senior Republican congressional aide. “Getting the approval of Congress before the November elections to bomb ISIS targets in Iraq would likely require an attack on American soil or a very imminent threat of danger. Members of Congress want to secure their own re-elections and this type of vote could be the defining factor in several tight Senate races across the country.” …
The most likely path here is that Obama will continue to do what he’s been doing, and probably expand attacks into Syria, using the Article II justification. As the White House has argued, he’s protecting Americans in Erbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq. By that measure, wherever America has an embassy, or citizens in peril, Presidents in the future will now have the precedent to engage in hostilities to protect them.
Damon Linker is dismayed, if not exactly surprised, that members of Congress are putting political considerations before Constitutional duty here:
Bombing a nation — even when it’s mainly to attack substate actors operating within it — is unquestionably an act of war. And debates about whether to go to war should be taking place in Congress, with our elected representatives taking a stand one way or another. The refusal to take that stand is a monumental evasion of Congress’s constitutionally delineated responsibility. That this shirking of responsibility is a product of abject cowardice and self-protectiveness makes it especially contemptible.
Serving in Congress has become so cushy that our representatives would rather protect their jobs than take a risk in defense of the public good or the prerogatives of their branch of government. Sure, they’ll support demagogic partisan stunts, like House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama. But actually take responsibility for war and peace? Nah. Much better to stay silent now and then reserve the right to attack the president if military action goes badly — or benefit from the outpouring of national good will if it goes well.
Conor Friedersdorf lists some more reasons why a Congressional authorization would be a good idea, other than, y’know, how it’s required by law and all:
• The legislature is in a better position than the executive branch to carry out the will of the American people, which ought to dictate United States foreign policy.
• A congressional debate can help to test the arguments for intervention, which may well be wanting given the dearth of public scrutiny they’ve gotten.
• Every two years, Americans decide whether to keep or oust their representatives in the House. Knowing where they stand on hugely consequential matters of national policy is integral to the American system functioning.
• A war to defeat ISIS would be a huge undertaking. Embarking without the support of the citizenry casts doubt on whether the country would see the effort through.
• It is dangerous to give a single man the power to take a nation to war without anyone being able to do a thing to stop him. It is, in fact, anti-Madisonian.