Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charging Toward War

Mark Halperin, writing for the Wall Street Journal, paints a hyperbolic picture of the danger of a nuclear attack by Iran worthy of the sort of breathless predictions of calamity one would read from a "climate change expert". Even the title is risible: The Mortal Threat From Iran , at least it would be if what follows was not so terrifying. After several paragraphs of ominous warnings, each one more dire than the prior including the threat of the Iranian navy launching nukes at American cities from their leaky speedboat navy, Halperin ends with this doozy:

Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.
Can you hear the Star Spangled Banner playing softly in the background while Old Glory is snapping in the wind? Brings tears of patriotic joy to my eyes. Of course no mention is made of the Iranian children cowering under their beds while our bombs fall on Iran. Iranian children are unimportant or at least no more important than the Japanese children incinerated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or dying slow and gruesome deaths from radiation poisoning. You do remember that of all of the nuclear armed nations in the world only the land of the free and home of the brave has actually used them, twice and on civilian targets to make a point, right?

So based on the President's oath....

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." (Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight:)
....Mark Halperin suggests that the aforementioned President is free to rain destruction on Iran based on the possibility that they might obtain nuclear weapons that they might be able to shoot at Iran or even America from their fishing trawlers and they might someday use them even though even a nutjob like the Prez of Iran realizes that doing so would be the end of himself, his country and his people. Dictators and despots may not care much about their people but they do love their own lives.

The oath of office for the President requires him (or her) to preserve, protest and defend what? The Constitution of the United States. What does the Constitution have to say about this? That the President must go to the Congress for a declaration of war. That is awfully inconvenient but one would hope that someone given space on the opinion pages of an august publication like the Wall Street Journal would be familiar with the oath he invokes as justification for a preemptive attack without provocation on a sovereign nation.

What Mark Halperin is proposing is a complete overthrow of our Constitutional system of checks and balances, placing the decision to go to war solely in the hands of one man. In the name of "security" and for the sake of our children snugged safely in their warm beds while Iranian children burn to death, he would have us abandon our liberties. The only guarantee of liberty in this country is the Constitution and he would have us chuck the whole thing in a seizure of power. If you can ignore something as serious as the system of checks and balances that prevents one man from taking us to war, you can ignore pretty much anything you want.

We stand at the precipice of yet another war and many "small government conservatives" can't wait to borrow and spend more money for another foolish war based on false pretenses predicated on a possible threat. Didn't we just finish a war that we engaged in under the same pretenses and similarly without a declaration of war? Like it or not, we live in a country governed by a clearly written document called the Constitution, the very Constitution that each President swears an oath to uphold and defend with his hand on a Bible. I for one am glad of that and I wish more people would remember that Constitution even when it is not convenient for their political platform.
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