25 March 2011

On the perils of making lofty moral judgments in international affairs

US bloggers have been linking to The One's forthright views on presidents' war-making powers in an interview with the Boston Globe in December 2007.
Question: In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an imminent threat?)

Answer: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.
Then there's this TV interview with Vice-President Joe Biden, also in 2007.
I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee for seventeen years or its ranking member. I teach separation of powers in Constitutional Law. This is something I know. So I got together and brought a group of Constitutional scholars together to write a piece that I’m going to deliver to the whole Unites States Senate pointing out the President has no Constitutional authority to take this nation to war [against Iran] unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that, but I would lead an effort to impeach him. I don’t say it lightly.

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