March 6, 2007

Finding the limit on Congress's war powers.

Noah Feldman and Samuel Issacharoff explain why Congress lacks the power to manage the war:
The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare wars, fund them, and oversee the way they are fought. Yet the Constitution never says exactly how these powers are to be reconciled with the president's authority as commander in chief. The Constitution surely must empower the president to fight wars effectively enough to win them. That means that war must be conducted under the president's direction, not run by committee. In the modern era, no country—not even a parliamentary democracy—has been so foolhardy as to place a war under the guidance of a legislative body, rather than a single, unified command....

The short answer to the question of institutional competence is that Congress is good at expressing the popular will about whether we should be at war or not, and what kind of a war it should be, while the president is good at actually fighting the war (or at least he should be). The Constitution should therefore be understood to allow Congress to declare and define the nature of the war while guaranteeing the president's authority to make decisions that are crucial to the tactical conduct of it.
Read the whole thing.

128 comments:

Freder Frederson said...

Too bad the Congress has decided to shirk its duty to decide when to go to war for the last sixty-five years. Instead letting the president use military force in one adventure after another of questionable constitutionality and legality after another.

Doyle said...

What garbage. Congress didn't actually express whether we should be at war or not. It voted to give the president authority to go to war.

Since that vote was premised on false information, and the resulting war has been such a disaster, oh, AND the administration continues to leave open the possibility of strikes on Iran, maybe we should be focusing on finding the limits of the president's war powers?

Doyle said...

Wow, just finished reading the whole thing. It's really terrible. It even uses White House approved terminology like "micromanage."

Also, shouldn't Slate be getting their constitutional scholarship from you rather than the other way around? Why don't you actually put on your law professor hat for once instead of just linking to items you're sympathetic to?

Zeb Quinn said...

I've believed all along that Bush erred in 2001 when he didn't seek and get a declaration of war from Congress. In those weeks right after 9/11, when just about everybody was on the same page, that declaration would have been more or less unopposed.

It was a Karl Rove strategerie thing I suppose, reasoning that anything Congress give it can later take away.

But they were too smart by half and out strategeried themselves. A properly worded declaration of war describing who the enemy was and what powers the executive had to prosecute the war would have headed off many of the problems the administration has had since. And golly gee, that's they way the constitution contemplates it happening. Imagine that.

monkeyboy said...

Anns a law professor?

Anyway, congress ran the revolution, which is why immediately after the Constitution said they shouldn't.

Revenant said...

What garbage. Congress didn't actually express whether we should be at war or not. It voted to give the president authority to go to war.

That's a distinction without a difference.

Superdad said...

"I've believed all along that Bush erred in 2001 when he didn't seek and get a declaration of war from Congress. ... It was a Karl Rove strategerie thing I suppose"

There was no high level strategy to not get a declaration of war. No president has done that since WWII. Why would Bush decide to be the first president in 50 years to ask for one?
Also, Congress could have passed one on its own and forced the Bush to veto it if he didn't like the language - they could still do that now.

RogerA said...

Wow--I find myself in absolute agreement with Fred: Congress has abdicated one of their most important powers: to declare war (although they did it as early as the naval war with France in 1798 so its nothing new). When Congress starts stepping up and taking responsibility, rather than engaging in political masturbation for media coverage, I will take them seriously.

Zeb Quinn said...

No president has done that since WWII. Why would Bush decide to be the first president in 50 years to ask for one?

Because 9/11 was an unprecedented event. It was the first time since 12/9/41 that a war declaration was appropriate.

And I disagree with your contention that it wasn't considered. I'm betting that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, et.al., hashed out the pros and cons of asking Congress for a declaration in great detail, and it was an explicit decision on Bush's part to not go that way.

Naked Lunch said...

The short answer to the question of institutional competence is that Congress is good at expressing the popular will about whether we should be at war or not, and what kind of a war it should be, while the president is good at actually fighting the war (or at least he should be)

Astounding. I would expect nothing less from our hapless media. I highly doubt Bush could successfully assemble a taco let alone run this war, which by the way he has proven for 4 years now that he cannot.

monkeyboy said...

What would an official declaration of war look like?

Seriously, naming OBL is a warrant, saying Al Qai'da is the enemy doesn't cover the Taliban, AIAI, GSPC, MILF or any of the other groups, nor is a geographic limitation the right thing when you have an international enemy.

But what do I know, Naked Lunch is the war plans expert.

Fen said...

I highly doubt Bush could successfully assemble a taco let alone run this war, which by the way he has proven for 4 years now that he cannot.

Which just shows your rabid stupidity. Under Bush, Iraq was conquered within a matter of days. Saddam has been overthrown, captured, and executed. The Iraqi's have had two [three?] elections. They've drafted a constitution. They've formed a coalition government. The Kursish region, along with 50+ % of the rest of Iraq is free and peaceful. A civil war between Shia and Sunni has been averted.

The only complaint is the way we've handled the occupation post-invasion. Al Queda and Bathist elements have been sewn strife, mainly because of a weak ROE designed to appease handwringers like yourself. Syria has been funneling terrorists across the border. Iran has been ferrying arms and fighters across theirs. Baghdad is a mess, mainly because the terrorists know that blowing up a few hundred troops & innocents in front of the CNN camera's in the Green Zone will sap the will of cowards back home, like you. We've captured AQ docs claiming this is their very strategy - target the appeasement weasels in the US with blood and propaganda. Those deaths are on your hands, because you and your kind continue to telegraph your weak spots. Its no different than the Dane Geld.

Look to US history - declaration in 1776, constitution in 1783, sacking of the capitol in 1812. It wasn't an easy path, even for us. But you and your kind would have submitted to the Tories [for mere political coup] before Washington's crossing.

Doyle said...

A civil war between Shia and Sunni has been averted.

I don't think "averted" means what you think it means.

Freder Frederson said...

In the modern era, no country—not even a parliamentary democracy—has been so foolhardy as to place a war under the guidance of a legislative body, rather than a single, unified command

And I don't know what nonsense they are spouting here. They obviously don't know how parliamentary democracies work. Tony Blair is not the Commander in Chief of British Forces, the Queen is. His ability to run the war is much more tenuous and dependent on his maintaining control of parliament than George Bush's. If he lost control of parliament, or even the confidence of his party, someone else would be running the Iraq War for Great Britain (In fact that is exactly what is going to happen this summer even though Labor is maintaining control of parliament).

Fen said...

nor is a geographic limitation the right thing when you have an international enemy.

And why would you want to "declare war" against Wahabbi Islam, when OBL is taunting you into starting a Holy War he can rally the rest of the Muslim world around? Gotta love these armchair generals like NakedLunch. So much foresight...

Doyle said...

when OBL is taunting you into starting a Holy War

Let me guess, this is another eventuality you think Bush has "averted"?

Freder Frederson said...

Baghdad is a mess, mainly because the terrorists know that blowing up a few hundred troops & innocents in front of the CNN camera's in the Green Zone will sap the will of cowards back home, like you.

You do realize that 1500-2000 people a month are being killed in Baghdad alone and that 2 million people have fled Iraq? Or is all that just liberal defeatism?

Fen said...

Certainly. Do you see the Muslim world lining up against America? Moderate Muslims may not have the will to oppose the radicals, but they consider OBL apostate. Framing the war against Islam would have been viewed as Western Christianity VS Eastern Islam, and the Paki government [along with their nukes] would have certainly fallen to radicals. You have no appreciation for the complexity of this war, nor any understanding of the ways the Bush administration has successfully handled it.

Doyle said...

nor any understanding of the ways the Bush administration has successfully handled it.

This part I gladly concede.

reality check said...

The Constitution should therefore be understood to allow Congress to declare and define the nature of the war while guaranteeing the president's authority to make decisions that are crucial to the tactical conduct of it.

That's an enormous weasel.

Congress can define the nature of the war. That would seem to allow an awful lot of "micromanagement," including stating geographical boundaries, stating what sort of tactics (like torture or nukes) is impermissible, establishing timelines, etc.

Freder Frederson said...

But you and your kind would have submitted to the Tories [for mere political coup] before Washington's crossing.

Actually Fen, I'm pretty sure you would have been on the side of the Tories and would have been sent packing on a ship to Canada or the West Indies at the end of the war.

You would have been loyal to King and Country to the end.

reality check said...

I think we should all be "honored" that GWB himself chooses to comment in this forum, even if he has to use the pseudonym of "Fen."

Palladian said...

Jesus, this thread is like fly paper for Althouse's stupidest phony liberals. What a cavalcade of pricks! Really, it's funny that in the overclocked minds of certain socially damaged individuals, "liberalism" has become synonymous with both "sarcastic" and "nihilistic". Can any of you actually make a comment without rolling your textual eyes?

I wish we had more smart liberals here. Hell, I wish we had more actual liberals here. The few we do have can't bear the weight of the stupid, phony ones much longer.

Freder Frederson said...

You have no appreciation for the complexity of this war, nor any understanding of the ways the Bush administration has successfully handled it.

This from a man who counts the casualties in Iraq as "a few hundred", thinks a Shia/Sunni Civil War has been averted, and thinks a Shia dominated theocracy in the south (with significant intra-Shia violence) that has effectively forced the British out of Basra constitutes "free and peaceful".

How about telling us how a 59% rise in poppy production is a sign of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Afghans?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well I find it interesting that we have gone from declarations of war to Congressional resolutions to authorize military action. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of semantics but it certainly sounds like the same thing. If you look at the Congressional authorization to attack Iraq and the declaration of war on Japan in 1941, they certainly look and sound similar whereas the latter is much shorter and to the point.

Then again in all fairness, Shrub at least went through the motions of going through Congress to get approval to go to war as opposed to say, launching an unprovoked, unauthorized, non-UN sanctioned three month war against a two-bit Balkan nation.

Once war/military action begins, Congress controls the purse strings whereas strategy and policy is dictated at the Executive level as it should. The buck has to stop somewhere and better than focus on one man rather than a committee of Senators/Reps who will be too busy blaming each other for screwing the pooch. If Congress truly believes that the war is being mismanaged, then pull the funding and force the withdrawal of the troops. It is really that simple.

RogerA said...

Looks like the Iraq war is going to be argued by this generation much like the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasakion my generation. I am still seeing the same pro and con arguments trotted out for that one; I am sure this debate will extend until this current generation is gone.

(Now my dad was hung up on the Spanish Civil War)

Freder Frederson said...

I wish we had more smart liberals here. Hell, I wish we had more actual liberals here. The few we do have can't bear the weight of the stupid, phony ones much longer.

Yeah well, if the conservatives didn't make such astounding ignorant and stupid statements we would be so sarcastic.

Fen has shown him self to be quite the lover of Authoritarian power. I can't imagine that he would back the Continental Congress over Britannia in the Revolution. Nope, he would be a loyal subject of George III.

Fen said...

"The second attempt by the British to subjugate the Patriots in the southern states began in November 1779 with the successful British invasion of Savannah, Georgia; and continued with the successful British invasion of Charleston, South Carolina in April and May, 1779 [which ended in 1780 –SE]. These invasions were followed by a series of battles in South Carolina and the Battle of Guilford CourtHouse in North Carolina during which the British Army gradually weakened. Once again we presume it was the British authorities who had sent former army officers Col. Hector McNeill and Col. Archibald McDonald, to this section of North Carolina to influence their countrymen and other Loyalist sympathizers to participate in this second Loyalist uprising in support of British authority. These former officers were quite enthusiastic and gave the most glowing accounts of the British Army and its officers. They said the British Army had money at command in any amount, that they would be certain to conquer the country, and that the Scottish people would be handsomely rewarded if found on the King's side. Thus excited, the Scottish Loyalists and Tories began again, gradually to rise and embody. The ensuing civil strife in this section reached its greatest intensity during a six month period in the year 1781. The conflicts pited neighbor against neighbor; Whig or Patriot against Loyalist or Tory. The country soon presented a terrible scene of bloodshed, devastation and wretchedness. The skirmishes and battles which occurred during this period have been referred to collectively by local historians as the Tory War."

You guys would have fled for Paris. You know what? You still can.

reality check said...

Shorter Palladian: blah blah blah, you guys are stupid, stop picking on me.

Fen said...

Fen has shown him self to be quite the lover of Authoritarian power

Sure. Thats why you've resorted to ad homs instead of analysis.

Freder Frederson said...

Thats why you've resorted to ad homs instead of analysis.

Actually, I used both. I countered your ridiculous assertions that things are going swimmingly in Iraq with the harsh reality. You just came back with a history lesson about the British Campaign in the Carolinas in the Revolution (btw I have been to the King Mountain battlefield outside Gastonia, NC--which was when the Patriots finally began to turn the tide against the British).

monkeyboy said...

The British were forced out of Basra? So how is the situation there now? Has the city desended into bloody sectarian violence? How many casualties did the brits take when they were forced out?

You do know that the brits are still there don't you?

The Iraqi Army 10th Division, based in the south, has proven itself during Operation Sinbad. The Division was transferred to Iraqi control in January and is now planning and leading security operations in Basra with minimal or no Coalition support. Small UK Military Transition Teams remain embedded in the Division’s units to lend hands-on training and mentoring.

Peter Palladas said...

A civil war between Shia and Sunni has been averted.


You Know Your Country's In Trouble When

1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.

2. Above mentioned branch cannot be run from your country.

3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.

4.The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.

5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.

6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.

7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.

8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.

9 People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

10. A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

'Riverbend's Review of the Year 2006'


It was the deadliest in a number of attacks against pilgrims heading to the city of Karbala for a religious event.

A Day In The Death Of

Freder Frederson said...

The Iraqi Army 10th Division, based in the south, has proven itself during Operation Sinbad. The Division was transferred to Iraqi control in January and is now planning and leading security operations in Basra with minimal or no Coalition support. Small UK Military Transition Teams remain embedded in the Division’s units to lend hands-on training and mentoring.

You really shouldn't believe everything the British MOD tells you.

Revenant said...

Because 9/11 was an unprecedented event. It was the first time since 12/9/41 that a war declaration was appropriate.

A war declaration against what country?

Naked Lunch said...

Fen
You're cute when you're mad. I'm sorry, I'm trying to break down your "analysis", but I might need a stiff drink to get thru it. But liberals seem to be the cause of the all the failures you mentioned, the blood is on our hands even though few of us were wanted it, or were involved in any of the planning or execution, and we can't comprehend the nuances that you [and wingnut warbloggers] can only see.

And why would you want to "declare war" against Wahabbi Islam, when OBL is taunting you into starting a Holy War he can rally the rest of the Muslim world around? Gotta love these armchair generals like NakedLunch. So much foresight...

You mean like starting a holy war in Iraq? Absolutely fucking brilliant Fen. Mission Accomplished. And for that you will in the wilderness for a long, long time. In fact, you already are.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You mean like starting a holy war in Iraq? Absolutely fucking brilliant

Well in all fairness, OBL had already declared his Holy War so whether it was extended to Iraq, Afghanistan or we simply stayed home and cleaned up the rubble in NY, the Holy War was already underway. If we leave Iraq tomorrow, more than likely the Sunni and Shia will continue to settle those 1000 year old scores rather than join the jihad against the Great Satan.

Fen said...

Freder: Actually, I used both. I countered your ridiculous assertions that things are going swimmingly in Iraq with the harsh reality

No, the assertion you should be defending is NakedLunch: I highly doubt Bush could successfully assemble a taco let alone run this war, which by the way he has proven for 4 years now that he cannot.

I've already demonstrated thats a lie. And instead of countering, you dishonestly attrib quotes to me that are not mine:

Freder: This from a man who counts the casualties in Iraq as "a few hundred

I never said such a thing. If you're cause is just and honest, why the need to make up stuff to smear your detractors? You can't even defend your own assertions.

Freder: You just came back with a history lesson about the British Campaign in the Carolinas in the Revolution

The "history lesson" is meant to show how difficult nation-building is - 5 years after we declared our independence. Its not jiffy-pop. And its too easy to nit-pick mistakes in wartime. You need to learn patience. We're going to remain in Iraq for at least another decade. Even if a Dem takes POTUS.

Fen said...

You mean like starting a holy war in Iraq?

There is no "holy war" in Iraq. You and Freder are exagerating the Shia-Sunni conflict for political points.

Although you do demonstrate why Congress should not be allowed to micro-manage the war. Sophists and demagouges abound. Thanks for the help.

Freder Frederson said...

I never said such a thing. If you're cause is just and honest, why the need to make up stuff to smear your detractors?

Excuse me? From your 1:19 post

Baghdad is a mess, mainly because the terrorists know that blowing up a few hundred troops & innocents in front of the CNN camera's in the Green Zone will sap the will of cowards back home, like you.

At least deny things you said in a different thread!

The "history lesson" is meant to show how difficult nation-building is - 5 years after we declared our independence.

You seem to have missed one obvious point in your history lesson. The British didn't come over and invade our country to free the patriots and tell them what kind of government to create. We kicked the British out and set up our own government. We also didn't ask the French to stick around for ten years to help us after they fought on our side. Nope we sent them packing as soon as the British granted us our independence (even though the Brits were still across the border in Canada, the Spanish to our south and lots of hostile Indians to the west).

Cedarford said...

In the modern era, no country—not even a parliamentary democracy—has been so foolhardy as to place a war under the guidance of a legislative body, rather than a single, unified command....

That is true, and beyond that, the reason the Constitution was created and the Articles of Confederation scrapped was that the lack of unified command crippled the US in defense and states being at each other's throats. The final deathknell of legislative/state defense was when the British and Canadian forces mopped the floor up North with legislature-directed militias in the War of 1812.

Zeb Quinn said...
I've believed all along that Bush erred in 2001 when he didn't seek and get a declaration of war from Congress.


The Constitution was a fine "operating manual", perhaps the finest in the time it was compiled ever - but in many ways has grown obsolete from the paralysis in amending it and leaving it to a High Priesthood of lawyers in robes ill-informed about military, commerce, executive systems - being in charge of "updating it".

Most nations and states and municipalities revise their constitutions and charters every 50 years or so to keep up with changing times and events. The US Constitution shows how bad it can be when a document cannot be fixed in a timely matter and can be corrected only by Civil War or lawyer's declaring emenations of unwritten penumbras outlaw abortion and sanction racial discrimination.

As Constitutional scholars told a consternated Diane Feinstein and others who thought in late 2001 a declaration of war was a piece of cake - the whole concept as enumerated in the Constitution is obsolete. Unless lawyers in robes amend it, the Constitution makes it illegal to declare war on anything other than nations. The Founders never envisioned nonstate actors with war powers other than pirates. Which were handled outside "war". Letters of Marque for piracy were thought to allow "policing declarations" except all nations signed the Treaty of Lisbon making letters of Marque illegal over 150 years ago.

Moreover the obsolete, unfixed US Constitution provisions of Congress "declaring war" were supercedeed when we signed the UN Charter - which has blocked all nations from formally declaring war ever since the last nation to do so, the USSR, did in August 1945 against Japan.

The options are to fix the old operating manual, OR withdraw from the Treaty of Lisbon and the UN.

Rogera Wow--I find myself in absolute agreement with Fred: Congress has abdicated one of their most important powers: to declare war.

Except Congress stripped itself of that when it signed the UN CHarter outlawing war and declarations of war - while allowing "police actions and right of self-defense".

Options appear to be fixing the old operating manual that is accumulating problems in light of changing times, withdraw from the UN, have the High Priesthood of lawyers in robes wave balls of smoking incense over the Sacred Parchment and announce the words mean different things than what is actually written.

Revenant said...

You do realize that 1500-2000 people a month are being killed in Baghdad alone

Given that only 2050 Iraqis died in the most recent month for which complete data is available, the obvious implication of that is that the bloodshed in Iraq is almost entirely confined to Baghdad at this point.

Which, yes, makes the left-wing shibboleth that allied victory is impossible and Iraq is hopelessly war-torn nothing more than "liberal defeatism".

reality check said...

OMG! Cedarford hates our Constitution!

Well, at least she's more honest about than most of the wingnuts.

Congrats Cedy on your bravery!

P. Rich said...

What needs to happen, I think, is for all the legal scholars and pundits and bloggers and critics and Congress to start to begin to comprehend that we are now operating under a national war policy that is completely different from anything in the past.

It's called preemption, taking military action as a preventative measure, and that isn't covered in the spirit or letter of the Constitution. And, whether they intended to or not, Congress has at the very least implicitly concurred in it's adoption.

All the blather about Congress this and the CinC that is missing this critical point. In addition, one should probably question whether under such a national policy a formal, traditional declaration of war has any meaning or relevance. Iraq is not a war, nor is Afghanistan. They are fronts, or localized areas of conflict, in a regional theater in a global struggle. So upon whom, or what, given a more precise problem definition, should war be "declared?" Good luck coming up with a rational answer.

Fen said...

Fen: Baghdad is a mess, mainly because the terrorists know that blowing up a few hundred troops & innocents in front of the CNN camera's in the Green Zone will sap the will of cowards back home.

Freder: This from a man who counts the casualties in Iraq as "a few hundred"

A distortion of what I wrote. Like I said earlier, you're not an honest advocate for your position.

Seven Machos said...

Wow. This one really brought the house zany far-left to full froth.

The Constitution is pretty clear here. Also, what Congress actually has the power to do, which is defund the war, it has chosen not to do.

Face reality: the war is happening. We can't go back. The thing we must do now is win. An overwhelming majority of Americans understand this, and Congress understands that an overwhelming majority of Americans understand this, which is why the funds will continue to flow. Why wouldn't a Democratic Congress defund the war otherwise?

Nevertheless, cue the far-left chorus of binary poll citations...

reality check said...

Lying claim:

An overwhelming majority of Americans understand this, and Congress understands that an overwhelming majority of Americans understand this, which is why the funds will continue to flow.

Reality based fact:

Majority in Poll Favor Deadline For Iraq Pullout
The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals.

Cedarford said...

Reality check - The US Constitution is an aging document more and more unable to cope in a fast moving world.

The Amending Process is broken, in gridlock, checkmated...whatever term you prefer. No significant Amendment has been allowed to pass in 35 years, 45 if you consider the 1962 Amendment ensuring right to vote despite not having the money to pay a poll tax a fundamental change, that adjusting the voting age to 18 wasn't.

Which is why there is growing awareness of accumulating problems that need to be fixed - lifetime judicial appointments, guarantee of military government if DC is decapitated without warning, inability to wage war against nonstate actors, new "rights" magically concocted, inability to reform US institutions in a 21st Century world moving at lightspeed, war powers fights rivening our government for 40 years, pending fiscal collapse of US institutions like medicare, uncontrollability of debt accumulation...

The alternative is to accept that changes can only be made by a High Priesthood of unaccountable, unelected lawyers who can change the Constitution as they feel like it and add new dictates to it not derivative of any language in the document.

It begins "We the People" not "We the Holy Founders of the Sacred Parchment". Meaning, we the people are empowered to fix obsolete, archaic, flat out stupid provisions of the Constitution or undo the damage of SCOTUS at times.
Other nations, even our states and cities regularly do it. They hold a convention to revise and update the constitution or charter independent of the High Priesthood of Lawyers in Robes.
By the measures of other nation, counting when we had to fix much of it following the destruction of the Civil War the Constitution helped precipitate...Once every 70 years or so, as other democracies do...we should have revised it in 1937 or so, making us about seventy years overdue in repairing The People's National Operating Manual.

Seven Machos said...

...Right on schedule.

reality check said...

Cedy, I think we're going to have to rely on Premier Bush and his family court to fix it.

It's really the only way.

Seven Machos said...

Why do all the house leftist hacks feel compelled to patronize our host and other posters by adding a "y" or an "ie" to their names? "Cedy." "Annie."

Does it make you feel somehow superior? I hope so, because you are wrong and stupid and shrill. So, if you can feel vaguely superior by changing someone's name in a baiting way, at least you have that to feel good about.

Revenant said...

we are now operating under a national war policy that is completely different from anything in the past. It's called preemption, taking military action as a preventative measure, and that isn't covered in the spirit or letter of the Constitution.

No specific war policy or form of military action is covered by the letter of the Constitution. The spirit of the Constitution is that Congress can declare war for whatever the hell reason it wants to, ranging from "you have land and we want it" to "you attacked us first".

There is certainly nothing unique or new about waging war against a nation on the grounds that it poses a threat. Nations have been doing that since the dawn of recorded history.

Peter Palladas said...

Given that only 2050 Iraqis died in the most recent month for which complete data is available

Data? Per-lease.

But let's just accept the figure as a notional figure, something to chew over. Could you give us your thinking on the 'only'? I'd just be fascinated.

Or try substituting 'Alabama' or 'Texas' or 'England' and see if that changes anything. Just try.

Seven Machos said...

Where would one substitute Alabama?

Theo Boehm said...

RC: It's difficult, but in your absence I find other forms of amusement.

Seven Machos said...

Yeah, far lefties, the Bush administration is the first in American history ever to preemptively attack a country that didn't first attack the United States.

Doyle said...

The US Constitution is an aging document more and more unable to cope in a fast moving world.

Why do they hate America?

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- Why hasn't the Democratically-controlled Congress voted -- yes or no -- to defund the military effort in Iraq?

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doyle said...

Well because you used the adverbial, long form instead of "Democrat-controlled", I'll answer this one again.

It's because they don't have the votes, and because it's an unpopular solution to the problem.

People would rather Bush get us out of the mess he got us into.

Revenant said...

"Given that only 2050 Iraqis died in the most recent month for which complete data is available"

Data? Per-lease.

The data comes from that notorious hive of pro-war neo-con zealotry, the Iraq Body Count. I find it interesting that you don't care where Freder's data comes from, by the way.

Could you give us your thinking on the 'only'? I'd just be fascinated.

The "only" is in reference to the fact that the figure of 1500-2000 had been cited "for Baghdad alone". Thus, "only", as in "the count for Iraq as a whole isn't much higher than the count for just Baghdad itself". That much was obvious from my post, in which I observed that the implication was that almost all the bloodshed was in Baghdad now. I can't imagine how you missed it.

Or try substituting 'Alabama' or 'Texas' or 'England' and see if that changes anything. Just try.

Sure.

"1500-2000 people are dying each month in Texas alone. Given that only 2050 Americans died in the most recent month for which complete data is available, the obvious implication is that the bloodshed in America is almost entirely confined to Texas at this point."

Nope, no change. Like my Iraq/Baghdad statement above, the America/Texas statement is also obviously true.

Revenant said...

People would rather Bush get us out of the mess he got us into.

Well then those people can darn well put up with however Bush feels like getting us out of the war.

You don't get to refuse responsibility while still exercising control. It's either/or.

Wade_Garrett said...

Fen - FYI, nobody is impressed by your tough talk. If you think the Bush administration is successfully handling this war, then either you're either not very intelligent or else you need to start watching something other than Fox News.

Seven Machos said...

Wade -- Yes. Truly intelligent people listen to NPR. And people who support the war must be watching FOX NEWS. It's all about FOX NEWS, really. That's who the Jihadists really hate: FOX NEWS. If it wasn't for those rascals, we'd be living in utopia.

Doyle said...

Well then those people can darn well put up with however Bush feels like getting us out of the war.

Well, that is the alternative. But we know he doesn't "feel like getting us out of the war" as long as he's president. My cynical but not-so-very farfetched theory is that he is prolonging/escalating it primarily to avoid, or try to avoid, responsibility for it.

If Congress doesn't force him to remove our troops, by cutting off funding or revoking the AUMF or however they do it, the war will be the next president's problem. He sees withdrawal as a tacit admission that he was wrong to invade in the first place. He was, of course, but as long as there are still US troops dying over there he can say they're fighting a good fight.

Seven Machos said...

P.S.: The Matthew MCConaughey picture is priceless.

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- Yeah, that's a great theory. Just like we blame Reagan for the Iran hostage crisis and Truman for WWII. Good one. It also explains the surge so well.

You far-lefties: always with the top-notch, super-shrewd theories.

Revenant said...

If you think the Bush administration is successfully handling this war, then either you're either not very intelligent or else you need to start watching something other than Fox News.

Let's say that Bush is doing a very bad job.

It doesn't follow that (a) the war was a bad idea, (b)there's no hope of winning, or (c) we'd be better off if the Democrats were in charge.

Lincoln did a lousy job as commander in chief during the Civil War. He was still right to WANT to fight the war, and Americans (particularly the nonwhite ones) still have plenty of reasons to be thankful the Democrats didn't take the Presidency in 1864.

Peter Palladas said...

only

You just don't get it. But then they're 'only' Iraqis so who gives a shit.

Doyle said...

The "surge"? Don't get me started. The cynical theory explains that one just fine: "Stay the Course" was no longer an option, and withdrawing troops is unacceptable (for the reasons I mentioned), so that really only leaves one option: SURGE!

That's right. 20,000 more combat troops in a country of 26 million, with 6 million in Baghdad. And remember that not all those troops are actively patrolling at the same time.

It's pure stagecraft. Move that damn defeatist Casey off his post and replace him with the respected, can-do Petraeus. Then just watch as the Surge delivers glorious victory for the forces of Freedom!

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- You are against the war. We get it. Go on home now.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Reality based fact:

Majority in Poll Favor Deadline For Iraq Pullout


Kinda begs the question then why Congress is issuing non-binding resolutions rather than defunding the war and bringing the children home. Especially when the Voice of the People have spoken so clearly.

Or perhaps Congress is not in touch with reality. Shock or awe, you decide.

Doyle said...

Do you get it? Because in the past you have grossly underestimated the number of Americans who were against the war. So there must have been a lot of Americans who were against it who you were under the impression supported it. Maybe I was one of those.

Doyle said...

Kinda begs the question then why Congress is issuing non-binding resolutions rather than defunding the war and bringing the children home. Especially when the Voice of the People have spoken so clearly.

Yes it begs the question. It's begged it in this very thread not 20 comments ago, from Seven Machos.

The people are against the war and want the troops brought home. They do not, however, want Congress to cut off funding for the war. This is fairly obviously because they think that will leave troops in harms way without supplies/ammo etc, when in fact it is just the most direct way of forcing troop withdrawal.

Hoosier Daddy said...

It's because they don't have the votes,

Dems control the Congress. Perhaps its time that the 3rd Lady exercise those political leadership skills and get those votes. Seems to me that the Dems rode the anti-warhorse to victory and rather than make good on thier promises to the Left on bringing the children home, the children instead got a minimum wage increase.

and because it's an unpopular solution to the problem.

Says who? Seems to me that when the polls are touted, it's bring the troops/children home. Are they actually really concerned how its done? Congress didn't have a problem defunding Nam and since this is the new Nam, what's the hold up? I seem to recall a chant during one of those anti-war rallies "Not another dollar, not another day!" Catchy it was.

People would rather Bush get us out of the mess he got us into.

I'd like to see some evidence for that. I think there was an expectation on the part of the voters last election that there would be some change. So far, Nancy and Company aren't blowing my skirt up.

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- You lost the argument to go to war. You lost the argument to defund the war. You will lose the argument to leave Iraq.

0-3 is a bad record.

Hoosier Daddy said...

They do not, however, want Congress to cut off funding for the war. This is fairly obviously because they think that will leave troops in harms way without supplies/ammo etc, when in fact it is just the most direct way of forcing troop withdrawal.

It may be obvious for the nitwit contingent but anyone with half a brain understands that is not how it works. Funding for a war, or any other pet project is based upon a certain amount of funds for a certain amount of time. Congress knows this and if they had any brains would clearly communicate this tidbit of information.

No the problem is that the Dems are now playing politics because they simply have too much invested in it being Bush's disaster. Bringing the troops home in 6 months means the war is over for us and now it can't be used as a rubber hose to beat the administation with.

Lets say the surge works, you think that is good for the Democratic party or bad?

Doyle said...

Dems control the Congress.

Right, but they need 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, and a lot of Democrats wouldn't vote to cut off funds.

Which leads to your second question regarding public opinion on funding.

Says who? Seems to me that when the polls are touted, it's bring the troops/children home.

"Would you favor or oppose Congress cutting off all funding for the Iraq War?"

29% Favor
68% Oppose
3% Unsure

- AP Ipsos 2/12-15/07

So that's who says that "cutting off funds" is unpopular.

But you either accidentally or dishonestly think that this means they don't want the troops brought home. They do, to the tune of 58% in today's poll.

That's the evidence that people want Bush to get us out of the mess he got us into. They don't poll that question, but that's what can be inferred from the people who say Yes to withdrawal and No to defunding.

Seven Machos said...

Doyle: You obviously don't understand the word inference. It means "must be true."

I don't know why you come here and spout the same inanities. You lost. You keep losing. You are wrong.

Sloanasaurus said...

Maybe it's just me, but don't people get tired of the same old lefty anti-war types spending 1/2 their time posting 50 messages day after day with essentially the same arguments day after day and the other half calling Althouse a fascist.

This Blog was much more interesting for the short while a month ago when there was that hour pause in between posts (comments were moderated).

Ode to those days.

Doyle said...

Sloan -

I think the onus is on the same old righty, pro-war types to capitulate and admit that they are wrong and that they're sorry.

In the meantime, I'll respond to the same old arguments I get from them.

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- Your side lost in the run-up to the war. You lost your very short "battle" to defund the war. You were losing, are losing, and will continue to lose in your attempts to end our military efforts in Iraq before stability is achieved on our terms.

What, exactly, is there to capitulate about? I don't see the Indianapolis Colts capitulating now that they have won the Super Bowl.

Your arguments are odd and silly.

Doyle said...

Less than a year and a half after 9/11, the president of the United States said that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Al Qaeda and a reconstituted nuclear (and mobile biological) weapons program. Of course we lost in the run up to the war. The Bush White House was shamelessly deceptive, and they had a fairly large, distinguished pulpit. Plus they had a fiercely loyal, belligerent and (at the time) large political base.

As for stability being achieved on our terms, even if that happened tomorrow, it will have taken four full years, over 3,100 American soldiers' lives and $400 billion.

But it's not going to happen tomorrow and it's not going to happen before we get our troops out of there. We're not in a position to dictate to an entire country the terms on which they're going to stop killing each other. We can just try to speed up the process as much as possible.

Theo Boehm said...

I've pretty much had it.

Sloan or Seven, if you're still here: Can either of you recommend another general-interest blog along the lines of Althouse, but with comment moderation? I've looked and found nothing quite to my taste. I'm not really sure about the most efficient way to go about this.

I'm open to suggestions from anyone else who has grown tired of monodic rants from robotic, or perhaps robot, commenters.

Thanks.

Seven Machos said...

Doyle -- The troops are going nowhere.

How about let's argue whether there should be massive changes to the welfare system in 1996? Me? I sayt there should be.

Seven Machos said...

You know, Theo: it's funny. I sometimes get off on tangents in these comments and I appreciate the latitude our host gives us to do so. (I've tried to be circumspect about it in recent months.) Also, I like to spar. And I like discussing issues with reasonable Democrats and liberals like, e.g., Althouse and (75 percent of the time) Madison Man, and others.

It does seem recently that about three people have come here and really gone to work spouting the same far-left cant. It's frustrating.

I don't even mind far-left cant. But the insults ("Annie," "Cedy") and the attacks and the mind-numbing sameness and dullness of the arguments does get stupefying.

I wonder if some kind of self-limitation would work?

Theo Boehm said...

Seven - It's true that the free-wheeling nature of the comments here is a big attraction.  Good, interesting commenters such as yourself are one of the reasons I'm here a lot.  You and I have the same attitude toward discussion, and it looks like we're not alone. A lot of other kindred spirits are hanging around as well.

That doesn't mean we're all on the same page politically, or this is the echo-chamber some people accuse it of being.  That's the charm.  And I really would like to kick around ideas and maybe some amusing banter free from the dreary cant we're now getting from those small number of sources.

For example, I view myself as an old-fashioned meat-and-potatoes Democrat.  Among other things, I'd like to see universal, single-payer health care.  One of regulars we all know, Pogo, is a medical doctor and a genuine expert in this field.  He has even written a book about it, and is entirely of the opposite opinion.  So, I'm very interested in what he has to say, even though my instincts run the other direction.  I say 'instincts,' because without testing my ideas and sharpening them against other facts and opinions, they remain instincts.

That is the thing the half-dozen nitwit commenters don't understand:  Rehearsing the same factoids and arguments over and over is not thought and dialogue.  You engage with people and perhaps change minds with patient, polite, sometimes sharp discussion. Althouse puts up very good posts, and it's a shame the comments are so often hijacked.

So, is there another ship to jump to?

Will Althouse do something about this one?

Seven Machos said...

Theo -- Agreed 100 percent. The initial posts here are what keep it hopping. Kudos to Althouse for that. The discussion is great but for a few loons. I don't know what to do. I'm a free-market solutions guy, and at a bit of a loss.

As an aside, I have come to have a great deal of respect for much Democratic, liberal thought since I found this place, and I now see the immense disagreements on the left and the gulf that separates the responsible left from the zany left. We'll probably never agree on single-payer healthcare, but it is wonderful to discuss it.

Revenant said...

"only"

You just don't get it.

I "get" that you're a whiny little shit who can't be bothered to read my posts before complaining about them.

But then they're 'only' Iraqis so who gives a shit.

I could point out that I do, but since no intelligent person would have read my post as being dismissive of the value of Iraqi life, and since the opinions of unintelligent people are unimportant to me, I see little reason to bother doing so.

Revenant said...

That's right. 20,000 more combat troops in a country of 26 million, with 6 million in Baghdad.

That would be a fascinating observation if we were at war with the entire population of Iraq. In reality, of course, it is the ratio of US troops to *insurgents* that matters, and the Iraqi insurgency numbers only in the tens of thousands.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Right, but they need 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, and a lot of Democrats wouldn't vote to cut off funds.

Again that goes back to Ms. Pelosi exercising those leadership skills. There are more than a few GOP that have jumped ship too so its a matter of getting her house in order as well.

Which leads to your second question regarding public opinion on funding.

Ok I'll accept one poll as proof positive, however, its irrelevant in the big picture. It may be an unpopular method but if its the only alternative to override a rouge President who got us in a situaton worse than Vietnam (Harry Reid quote)then it is incumbent upon Congress to do what is necessary even if its not popular. Raising taxes isn't popular and that seems to be thier fix for everything and doesn't stop them much.

But you either accidentally or dishonestly think that this means they don't want the troops brought home. They do, to the tune of 58% in today's poll.

Not at all. Don't get me wrong. I think this war was a pooch screw from day one. On the other hand, I also hold Congress responsible for getting us into it as well. I don't buy the false premises argument either because Clinton was making the same exact claims when he was in office so the claims weren't made up overnight.

The whole point of this post from the start was what branches have warmaking powers.

That's the evidence that people want Bush to get us out of the mess he got us into.

Fine but he's not which then leaves it to Congress to use thier Constitutional powers to check his power which they and many posters on here claim, have run amok.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Can either of you recommend another general-interest blog along the lines of Althouse, but with comment moderation? I've looked and found nothing quite to my taste. I'm not really sure about the most efficient way to go about this.

Comment moderation on blogs is generally translated into censorship, or at least that has been what I have found in the past.

Actually I find the comments on this blog to be rather more intelligent than most which is why I visit and only recently started commenting.

I think one of the reasons for your concern could be this particular topic. The war does have a tendency to bring out a lot more emotion than say, posts more 'local' in nature.

Also keep in mind the nature of blog commenters. They tend to become more of a discussion board than actual comments which are nothing more than sounding boards.

Like Machos said, its fun to spar and everyone likes to get the last word in. Self control is much better than board moderation which simply becomes a censor at some point. Or so it will be perceieved.

monkeyboy said...

I'm of half a mind to try an take the blog back. I'm not sure if there is another place where left and right can meet and discuss civilly. Remeber the post about why people would not support gay marriage? almost four hundered posts of interesting converstaion.

Ah...those were the days.

hdhouse said...

So the end all here is that we are not really at war as the framers intended it to work. And in getting us into this authorized war but not a declared war, we didn't even enter into the threshold envisioned.

It is a distinction WITH a difference. The executive has grabbed historically prompted war powers as if a declared war commander in chief and then has relied on a whole parcel of security legislation (guarding our country - NOT waging a foreign declared war)to grab even more.

Maybe we are in the mess we are - which is a long term mess that this feckless bastard will just walk away from when he leaves or is thrown from office - because we didn't do it right in the first place.

Pogo said...

Theo,

I always enjoy your intelligent comments, and very much hope you stick around.

This is perhaps the single example of a thread I did not even want to bother posting in, precisely for the reasons you stated.

Fen's always an intelligent read, but when I see Doyle, Naked Lunch, and reality check with many many posts it reminds me of the fight scene in The Matrix with thousands of Mr. Smiths climbing on Neo. Or something more like rats in a Taco Bell.

I do see althouse as a middle ground arena, and expect some of this. But items on the war bring out the very sharp divide in the US, and the talk soon comes to blows. It's actually quite the same for me in real life; I avoid all discussion of the war because I know several folks like Doyle, delusional in their hatred of Bush et al, who can't see the forest for the damn trees.

I have no answer at all. Sippican, one of my favorite commenters, comes by now and again still, and once said that bad commenters drive out the good. In my view, the lack of willingness to engage, to grant any defect to your side, to cede any ground, to admit any wrong, define such types.

And a thread like this is too big and fat a softball for them to avoid taking many, many swings. And maybe there is no way to talk about the war anymore, much as there is no way to discuss race.

Sometimes it's like trying to have a discussion with a petulant teenager about, well, anything; the talk quickly dissolves into an over-emotional tirade, and they end up screaming, "I hate you!! You ruined my life again!" and you begin to wonder, 'Where have all the adults gone?'

hdhouse said...

pogo -

that you think fen's take on the world is cogent and insightful speaks volumes. that you believe it is the hatred of all things bush that spurs on liberal opposition to the war speaks equally.

someone posted that you were a doctor. well then, do you read JAMA for selectively or do you read it all? Do you read the drug literature for the benefits or do you read the contraindications? when a patient comes in is there a litmus test you perform before you ask for their primary complaint?

what i find most disturbing about the rightwing that posts here is that you don't see the difference in these sentences:

1. you hate bush ergo you'll say anything or slant any observation to support your hatred.
2. we hate what we see and say so and trace the reasons for what we find disagreeable to bush.

you pick the former because it doesn't require any thought to oppose that thinking. you shun the latter because it brings you to a conclusion that is what you accuse - you love bush so much you will say or think you observe anything to support him.

hdhouse said...

ohhh and pogo: 1 in 10 of the posts in this thread or Fen's. It would be safe to say that Fen's positions don't constitute 10% of the thinking on this blog but up pops the devil every 10 rolls of the dice.

Pogo said...

hdhouse

I would have some confidence that your two choices were in some way meaningful if at any time ever you had suggested any possibility, even the faintest suggestion, that Bush's record is mixed, not Evil Incarnate. Really, it's impossible to tell between the two options you presented; they are a distinction without a difference. In practice, they are identical.

Fen has a practical mind. I don't always agree, but I do much of the time. He doesn't seem to shy from criticizing the conduct of the war, and admits errors, in my view.

I do see that the very topic itself divides. But I see many on the left falling into this near-religious anti-Bush behavior that is wholly destructive. I mean, compare Al Gore now to when he was Veep. Then, a tough-talkin' guy when it came to terrorists. Now he's concerned about the weather.

But really, I cannot trust a commenter who never ever admits to a middle ground. It's always black-and-white with some commenters, so I avoid them most of the time. Beth, Theo, and Madison Man disagree with me, but at least I can have a conversation, and I do not fall into insults with them. Primarily because they treat me with repsect, even when they think I am an idiot, which I suspect is rather frequent, and perhaps not unwarranted.

Insulting reality check is all that's possible, for he/she cannot accept any disagreement. On the whole, you strike me as a True Believer. One might as well try to argue with a squirrel.

Ann Althouse said...

The best way to limit the role of people you think are just trolls is to do what everyone always tells you to do with trolls: Don't feed them! Everyone knows this advice, but somehow the temptation remains. Don't give in to it. I don't have time to delete everything trollish. I have to stop and think before nixing anything. You can just assume every comment that calls me "Annie" is something I would delete. Just skip it. I deem it nonexistent. Okay?

Fen said...

Pogo:Fen's always an intelligent read, but when I see Doyle, Naked Lunch, and reality check with many many posts it reminds me of the fight scene in The Matrix with thousands of Mr. Smiths climbing on Neo. Or something more like rats in a Taco Bell.

The fault is partly mine. I get tired of the constant assertions and lies and push back. But I've been thinking that the three you mentioned aren't really interested in exchanging ideas or influencing opinion, they're more about venting and bashing the "enemy". I should not engage them. It poisons the well here - other "sane" commenters get caught up in the vitrol and spread it around to innocent bystanders. It creates tension between the honest left and right here and spoils the blog. That is the perp's intent, to spike Althouse.

So I'm unvieling my new Carbon Offset scheme. Some of you selfishly refused to donate to the previous fens_new_boat.com, out of concern the money would not be used to plant trees, etc. Fair enough. Instead, in a effort to curb emisssions and conserve bandwidth energy, I'm placing Doyle, Naked Lunch, and Reality Check on ignore. I've communed with the Aspect of the High Priest of Climate Change, and he figures it will save 1/2 ton carbon yearly. Any others who want to jump in on the Ignore Offset [tm] will get a 1/2 ton voucher from High Priest Gore himself.

Sorry Ann and everyone else. And thanks for your patience.

reality check said...

I agree completely Professor Althouse. Sadly, there is little to be done between Seven Machos, Pogo, Cedarford, Revenant, Gahrie, Palladian, Fen, Sloanasaurus.

These gals just insist on coming by here everyday and spouting the pure talking points of the most partisan party. Points that have been thoroughly debunked again and again.

It really drives out the good commenters like hdhouse, naked lunch, freder frederson, doyle, etc. It makes me sad to think of all the good commenters that used to post here and have now left.

We used to discuss things important to all of us, but now, no matter what you post, all we here about is leftists, leftists, leftists.

It's very discouraging and it makes me understand how your blogroll, op-eds, blog posts are constantly mistaken as indications that you are a conservative trying to establish a claim that you are the last remaining true honest Democratic liberal, instead of what we know which is that you are the last remaining true honest Democratic liberal.

Anyway, I am not sure what can be done.

Don't feed the trolls! And that goes double for Fen!

Fen said...

/ignore trolls

This was lost in the flames - Rich makes a very good point:

P. Rich: "What needs to happen, I think, is for all the legal scholars and pundits and bloggers and critics and Congress to start to begin to comprehend that we are now operating under a national war policy that is completely different from anything in the past.

It's called preemption, taking military action as a preventative measure, and that isn't covered in the spirit or letter of the Constitution. And, whether they intended to or not, Congress has at the very least implicitly concurred in it's adoption.

All the blather about Congress this and the CinC that is missing this critical point. In addition, one should probably question whether under such a national policy a formal, traditional declaration of war has any meaning or relevance. Iraq is not a war, nor is Afghanistan. They are fronts, or localized areas of conflict, in a regional theater in a global struggle. So upon whom, or what, given a more precise problem definition, should war be "declared?" Good luck coming up with a rational answer."

Naked Lunch said...

LOL

Wingnut: You traitorous treasonous communist faggot.

Liberal: Eff You!

Wingnut: Look at all that hate and vitriol. What sad people!

Sloanasaurus said...

The leftist point of view is perfectly welcome. What sucks is the myriad of endless comments from the same sources. In some ways its a mob protest rally online showing the same tired old placards. When you see a post with 100 comments an hour after the post went up, why bother to read any of the comments at all. People should just stick to making a comment or two and then move on. It would make the blogging exprience much more enjoyable.

Pogo said...

Fen,

I would like an acknowledgement at some point from the Democrats that they are concerned about militant Islam, and what plan they have to deal with it.

But I get nothing.
Really, I am a social conservative, so I could do fine under sharia. Grow a beard, maybe, and fake the rest. The left? The gays and lesbians? The completely unrestrained free press types? The muticultural diversity folks? The social libertarians?

They have the most to lose, but are unwilling to engage.

reality check said...

And what did invading Iraq have to do with militant Islam again?

And yes, Pogo, we have long realized you would thrive under Sharia.

Theo Boehm said...

Thanks, Pogo.  I must say I never thought for a moment that you were an idiot.  On the contrary, you are one of the best, clearest writers I've read in any medium.  I think it's an honor that you're here.  As I say, I may have a different perspective, but I certainly pay attention and try to understand the complexities of an issue, and the presence of someone such as yourself in this public forum is a real resource for anyone with the wit to recognize it.

"Complexity" is the watchword, isn't it?  I've lived long enough to recognize that there are seldom simple answers.  We think we understand something, but the passage of time or some transformational event can put things in an entirely different light.  Read Winston Churchill's almost Periclean funeral oration for Neville Chamberlain if you want to see generosity of spirit and a willingness to understand the other's outlook.  Those of us using the Internet as a medium of communication should take a lesson.

In the meantime, Althouse is entirely right.  We should ignore the trolls.  And she's also right that it is damned hard. But it's time to move on.

Fen said...

But it's time to move on.

I hope that by that you "move on to the next topic", and not abandoning this community. I'm serious about ignoring the trolls, I won't engage them - that should clean things up again. But if insightful commenters from either side of the aisle throw up their hands and leave in disgust, the trolls win. They don't want us to have conversation.

Pogo said...

Well said, Theo.

This morning I saw an elderly man who had worked as a high school football coach for over 35 years. He said one thing he liked best was the ability of athletes on opposing teams to damn near kill each other on the field, but yuck it up afterwards. He said, "I met some of the nicest people that way." Startled me a bit.

Curious I met him just now; a bit of grace to that I think.

Theo Boehm said...

Fen, that's "next topic" ;-)

I've only got five minutes left on my lunch break!

Freder Frederson said...

It's called preemption, taking military action as a preventative measure, and that isn't covered in the spirit or letter of the Constitution. And, whether they intended to or not, Congress has at the very least implicitly concurred in it's adoption.

That's part of the problem Fen. You conservatives are so dishonest that you can't even speak clearly. You redefine words (torture is no longer torture, AUMFs are the same as a declaration of war) and change their meaning.

When you are talking about war, preemption and prevention are two very different concepts. Yet you conflate them and treat them as though they are equivalent. Preemptive war is justifiable (and just under "just war" theory) and legal under international law, while preventative law is illegal under international law.

The administration claimed that the war with Iraq was preemptive because Iraq posed a "grave and gathering threat" to the coalition. Of course such a threat doesn't constitute a causus belli for a preemptive war, but that didn't stop Bush from claiming he launched one.

Fen said...

"When you are talking about war, preemption and prevention are two very different concepts.

pre·emp·tive /priˈɛmptɪv/

2. taken as a measure against something possible, anticipated, or feared; preventive; deterrent: a preemptive tactic against a ruthless business rival.


[shrug]

Fen said...

Hey Freder, if you have some cite to a body of international law that defines the diff b/t preemptive and prevention, I'd be interested in seeing it.

Also, as I understand it, showing the sole of my shoe to a Muslim captive would be "demeaning" - placing me amoung the "war crimminals" like Hitler and Milosevec? In the US, if some bonehead legistlature passes a law that I believe threatens my right to self-defense, I can at least challenge it by going to SCOTUS. Is there any such remedy under international law? Who do I go to?

I still maintain that international law and some portions of US code are incredible. I think its in our best interest to revisit and maybe revise those laws to fit reality, before they are discarded entirely in disgust - if international law stops us from preemptive action that would prevent the destruction of NYC, the majority will no longer care what any international law says.

Freder Frederson said...

if international law stops us from preemptive action that would prevent the destruction of NYC, the majority will no longer care what any international law says.

Again you are confusing preemptive and preventative actions. Preemptive action is perfectly appropriate and legal (which is why the president couches all his discussion of the war in the Iraq in terms of "preemption"). Preventative war is what is illegal.

I don't know why I should have to explain or provide you with the definitions of preventative and preemptive wars. You are the one who brought them into the discussion. You should take the time to learn what they mean before you start throwing them around (and not just the generic dictionary definition of preemption).

You have the internets, use them.

There are four general classifications of war:

Defensive
Preemptive
Preventative
Aggressive

The first two are generally considered legal and justified, the second two illegal and unjustified. They are not rigidly defined but rather along a continuum (e.g., preemption can bleed into preventative). The U.N. has also declared that an aggressive war to stop an ongoing genocide can be legal and justified.

Fen said...

I don't know why I should have to explain or provide you with the definitions of preventative and preemptive wars.

Because you're the one insisting International Law makes a distinction between the two. All I'm asking for is a reference to that section of international law.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Here we go:

"The difference between preemptive war and preventive war is not a matter of semantics. Rather, it is a matter of timing that has implications for whether an act is justified or not. Traditionally, preemption constitutes a 'war of necessity' based on credible evidence of imminent attack against which action is justified under international law as enshrined in the self-defense clause (Article 51) of the UN Charter.> But the Bush administration has expanded the definition to include actions that more closely resemble preventive war. Preventive wars are essentially 'wars of choice' that derive mostly from a calculus of power, rather than the precedent of international law, conventions and practices. In choosing preventive wars, policymakers project that waging a war, even if unprovoked, against a rising adversary sooner is preferable to an inevitable war later when the balance of power no longer rests in their favor. The proposition gains traction when that enemy state is arming itself with WMD, or credibly threatens the supply of a critical resource such as oil, and national intelligence indicates that the enemy intends to harm one's own state."

[02/01/04 Council on Foreign Relations, in a summary paper entitled "The Bush Administration's Doctrine of Preemption (and Prevention): When, How, Where?"]

Freder Frederson said...

There you go, I knew you could do it. Just like torture, the Bush administration has decided to unilaterally redefine preemptive war to suit its own needs.

I'm sure next up will be redefining democracy to include Sharia Law based Shiite Theocracies so we can say we achieved our goals and won in Iraq. Of course, then it will be tough to explain why Iran isn't a democracy. But hey, no plan is perfect.

Revenant said...

There you go, I knew you could do it. Just like torture, the Bush administration has decided to unilaterally redefine preemptive war to suit its own needs.

Feel free to cite -- as in "link to", not "invent and post on your own" -- the original definition that Bush is "redefining".

Fen said...

So if Iran announces it has a nuclear arsenal and intends to use that arsenal to destroy the Great Satan, we have to wait until NYC is a crater before we respond, under international law? We have to take the first hit?

LutherM said...

Even though the article was written by two Professors from Law Schools, it does not accurately present all of the powers of Congress.
(A)Congress can cut off the money, not just for the war, but also for a lot of other things.
(B)Congress can remove the President - the process is known as Impeachment.
Cutting off money takes a majority vote, while a successful Impeachment requires more than a mere majority. At the present time, the Congress lacks the ability to exercise either remedy, because a majority are not ready to force an immediate withdrawal of troops, and the votes are not there for Impeachment. For some reason, the deaths of American troops in a mismanaged, un-winnable situation is deemed less serious by Congress than some liar denying sex acts with someone younger and more accessible than his wife.

reality check said...

Since Iran contains dna life forms of the species homo sapiens, it is a given that they can develop nuclear weapons. As such they clearly pose a threat to us, and so for preventative sake we need to nuke them.

Since Venezuela contains dna life forms of ....

Since ...

...

hdhouse said...

there is a back room at the white house with 1000 monkeys sitting at PCs. They have already typed 3 different bibles...bush is sending them down to the laboratory to see what they can cook up.

Seven Machos said...

Luther -- No one will ever read this and it's completely academic, but you are brutally wrong and you sound like some armchair constitutionalist who has never bothered to consider the document.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

What are the high crimes and misdemeanors or what is the treason or bribery committed by President Bush?

Revenant said...

What are the high crimes and misdemeanors or what is the treason or bribery committed by President Bush?

There is precedent for impeaching American Presidents for abuse of power -- i.e., for violating the Constitution. There's certainly nothing implausible about considering violations of the Constitution to be a high crime by a government official.

Fen said...

Seven, you're wasting your time. His criteria for Impeachment doesn't include the Constitution:

Luther: At the present time...the votes are not there for Impeachment

Its about the votes, not the evidence.

Freder Frederson said...

What are the high crimes and misdemeanors or what is the treason or bribery committed by President Bush?

Authorizing torture (of both U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and abroad and foreign detainees) and thus violating the War Crimes Act and the International Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and other Degrading Treatment or Punishment (which is codified as U.S. Law). Violating FISA. Illegally suspending Habeas Corpus. Illegally authorizing the kidnapping of foreign nationals in third countries. Illegally rendering foreign nationals to third countries when he had actual or constructive knowledge that they would be tortured. Authorizing violations of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq (where they were fully applicable).

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Seven Machos said...

Fred -- Where is the impeachment on all those counts?