2002 October 01 Tuesday
James C. Bennett: Formally Declare War

James C. Bennett makes the case for a formal declaration of war:

A declaration of war, in contrast, is a well-defined and well-understood action. The war powers of the presidency have been defined and tested in a long series of historical actions. Likewise, the oversight powers of Congress in wartime have been well-established by precedent. Many of the actions against domestic terror suspects, now somewhat problematic under law, would then be placed in the context of well-established precedents for dealing with such issues.

Above all, a declaration of war would signal to the American people and to the armed forces that the republic was fully in earnest, and would not stop until the job had been done. The administration may shrink from seeking a declaration from concern that, if it were to fail, it would prevent any effective action thereafter. However, seeking a declaration would elevate the issue to a level of seriousness that would in fact increase its chances of passage. Rather than seek to set conditions upon a resolution, as at present, Congress would be better occupied creating a resolution regarding war aims, which would be useful to the struggle.

It may even be possible to get a formal declaration of war out of Congress. But what exactly would that formal declaration would be declared against? I think the US needs to seriously consider toppling the Libyan and Iranian regimes before they develop nuclear weapons. But to extend the formal declaration to them would tip the Administration's hand in terms of its longer term plans and there are tactical reasons not to do that. Most notably the US and British Navies need to be able to operate in the Persian Gulf without coming under attack from the Iranians.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 01 05:02 PM 


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