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June 21, 2011

Obama To Receive Nobel War Prize

Via RDBrewer: Another award, but this one truly earned.

As the July 2011 deadline for Afghan troop withdrawal nears, President Barack Obama is gearing up for another significant milestone, the Nobel War Prize awards ceremony, which will be held in Oslo next month.

Obama has been selected as this year’s winner of the first inaugural prize to commemorate the world leader who has “best advanced the goals of war and militarization across the globe,” amongst a notable cast of runners-up that includes NATO’s head Anders Fogn Rasmussen, China’s premier Wen Jiabao, and former President George W. Bush.


Among Obama’s list of war accomplishments, the committee highlighted Obama’s decision to double the number of troops and expand the number of private contractors in Afghanistan, as well as his dramatic escalation of drone strikes and targeted assassinations in Yemen and Pakistan. According to one committee member, “Two years ago, we worried that President Obama would rollback Bush administration policies and pursue a peace agenda, but in fact he’s expanded the militaristic Bush approach to counterterrorism. He’s managed to get the U.S. involved in three wars in the Middle East, keep Guantanamo open, and dramatically expand the use of covert CIA capture/kill operations across the globe. We could not think of a more worthy candidate for this award.”

I never know whether to print stuff like this, because I don't know if I want to mock him on this particular point, given that I'm not necessarily averse to these decisions. But funny is funny and cutting irony is cutting irony.

And this just in: Obama's war powers argument -- it's not "hostilities" when you kill people -- is a disgrace.

On its own terms, the president’s statement is a constitutional joke. At no time does it give any account of what the critical term "hostilities" means, except to say that whatever its meaning, it constitutes a high threshold that is not met in Libya. The trusty thesaurus offers the word "fighting" as a synonym for "hostilities," which is just what we are doing in Libya today. There is no evidence in the WPR text that the term "hostilities" does not have its ordinary English meaning.

Epstein goes on to challenge a generally-accepted (and I'm not sure why it is so generally accepted) constitutional meme the right often embraces, that the War Powers Act is inherently unconstitutional.

The WPR then sets out a program that requires the president, if he has ventured off on his own, to report to Congress within 60 days (unless, in the event of an armed attack on the United States, he gets Congressional authorization for a 30 day extension). Perhaps one can quibble with the details of the WPR, but the only way in which it is unconstitutional is if the president as commander-in-chief may wage a war that Congress has never declared. That bizarre position inflates the constitutional powers of the president to unrecognizable proportions. What can we make of any system of checks and balances if the power not to declare war somehow fails to operate as a limitation on the president’s powers?

A better argument about the unconstitutionality of the War Powers Resolution, I think, would be made not on the risible proposition that the commander in chief somehow was granted, secretly, the power to order us into war at his own personal, one-man-one-vote whim, but that Congress can't pre-delegate power in this arena in the form of blank check, but must make the decision each time case-by-case.

But that suggests that the President has even less power to declare one-man-one-vote war, not more. That is, on that point, the pre-delegation of war making authority granted, improperly, must be subtracted from his power, as it was errantly granted in the first place. The unconstitutionality of the WPR shouldn't wind up granting him powers the Constitution seems to say he just doesn't have.

In other words, if the WPR is without effect, then we go back to the text of the Constitution (unaltered by an ineffectual, unconstitutional resolution), and that says.... Congress declares war.

I know there's a practical, historical reason conservatives have bought into the this dubious proposition-- that generally we had a good shot of winning the White House and a rather bad shot of winning Congress, so we have argued for more presidential power, generally.

But 1, that historical happenstance seems to no longer be the rule, and 2, you shouldn't pick your constitutional rules according to what's politically most expedient anyhow.

Correction: I kept calling it the War Powers Act. It's not an Act, as it was never signed into law by a president. It's a Resolution, promulgated by both chambers of Congress, which expresses Congress' will outside of the law-making process (and the claim would be made that since this deals with a Congressional prerogative under the Constitution, they don't need a president's signature to give it effect).

Epstein deals with that, too.

Whatever the WPR is, whether it's operative, whether it's moot, the Constitution does not seem to grant the President one-man-one-vote war-deciding authority.

Correction To My Correction: Damn me I'm an imbecile.

It's an act. It is called both the War Powers Act (which I thought it was called) and the War Powers Resolution.

As it was passed by 2/3rds majorities in both chambers, it was immune to veto, and so never needed a signature.

Although it was passed as a joint resolution, it is called an "Act," too, or actual law.

I'm kind of confused.

You figure it out.

This is the thing about this site: If I tell you true information, you get lazy.

I want you to exercise your brains and figure out which of the things I've said is true and which of those things is false.

My General Point

Still standing, proud and unbowed, like a penis tweeted to a coed.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:48 PM

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