Friday, February 20, 2015

I read the Wall Street Journal every day, at least the Opinion Page.  I read it not because I am particularly interested in financial matters.  I read it because all of the articles are well written and well researched.  I learn a lot from these pages.

Today there is a piece written by Michael B. Mukasey and David Rivkin Jr. called "Another Obama Collision With the Constitution."  It addresses the issue of Obama's request for Congress to pass an AUMF, Authorization to Use Military Force.  The president does not need authorization to use force.  He doesn't need it constitutionally and he doesn't need it because the AUMFs of 2001 and 2002 are still in effect.  I wish I could give you a link to the entire article, but it seems you need on online subscription.  If you would like to see the beginning of the article and an offer to buy the online subscription you can find it here.

The authors argue that despite it's lack of necessity it is still generally a good idea for Congress to pass an AUMF because it  buttresses the president's authority.  They present the case, however, that "President Obama's proposal is fundamentally flawed," because it bans "enduring offensive ground operations" and expires in three years.

In other words, it ties the president's hands.  It limits his ability to use force. I find myself rather frequently asking what President Obama's motivations are.  Perhaps I am wrong, but in this case it seems to me that he is hoping to blame his unwillingness to use military force on Congress.  If Congress passes the AUMF that Obama has proposed, then he can blame Congress for his unwillingness to use ground troops to fight ISIS.  If Congress does not pass it, he can say that Congress did not authorize him to use military force.  Such a move would be dishonest, of course, because the 2001 and 2002 authorizations are still in effect, but somehow I don't think that will stop the president from saying so.

As Mukasey and Rivkin put it:
It is bad enough that legislation to tie a president's hands is being proposed by a president.  That it is proposed by this president, who has been so willing to exceed his constitutional authority in domestic affairs--by rewriting immigration laws, antinarcotics laws, ObamaCare and so on--underscores the administrations cynicism and its disdain for the Constitution.
They conclude "No AUMF is better than one that is constitutional flawed."

I would add that no AUMF is better than one proposed by a president for cowardly and clearly political reasons.

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