To understand why the Founders put war powers in the hands of the Presidency, look no further than the current spectacle in Congress on Iraq. What we are witnessing is a Federalist Papers illustration of criticism and micromanagement without responsibility.
The Founders gave war powers to Congress, dweeb. Article I, Section 8, paragraphs 11-14; see Findlaw. And if you want a Federalist Paper, try #69, by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton made it clear that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, was to have much less war power than that of a British king. The declaring of war and the raising and regulating of armies and navies are powers given to Congress.
The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.
The dweeb at WSJ continues. He both upbraids the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the non-binding resolution it passed yesterday and taunts Congress that if it really believed the Iraq War is so bad it should do something more drastic, like cut off funds.
By passing “non-binding resolutions,” they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.
I ‘spect that was the idea. It’s Bush’s War, dweeb. I’m hoping that if Congress can pass one non-binding resolution it will go on to something bolder.
Minority Leader John Boehner is even asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create another special Congressional committee to look over the general’s shoulder. It’s a shame Ulysses S. Grant isn’t around to tell them where to put their special committee.
I believe the point of the committees is to look over Bush’s shoulders, not the generals’, and I ‘spect General Grant would have been OK with that. Right now I don’t have time to look up what precedents there might have been during the Civil War and what Grant thought about them.
Anyway, the dweeb continues,
In addition to being feckless, all of this is unconstitutional. As Commander-in-Chief, the President has the sole Constitutional authority to manage the war effort. Congress has two explicit war powers: It has the power to declare war, which in the case of Iraq it essentially did with its resolution of 2003. It also has the power to appropriate funds.
But Bush obtained that resolution on false pretenses, which as far as I’m concerned renders it null and void. The Iraq War we got was the result of a bait-and-switch. And while the President has the authority to manage the war effort, he does so with a military raised and managed by authority of Congress, and he goes to war only by the authority of Congress. To claim that a President can trick Congress into one war resolution and then treat that resolution as a carte blanch to make war as he pleases for the rest of his administration is stretching things a tad.
Update: Glenn Greenwald has more.