Article I, Section 8, Revisited


I'm glad I didn't put any money on my prediction that Secretary of State Powell's U.N. address would give fence-straddling Republicans cover to join the pro-war coalition. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), at least in his public comments, still seems to be on the fence. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who probably would not have come around under any circumstances, has joined in introducing a resolution to rescind last October's use-of-force authorization. While I can't remember the last time Congress issued a Letter of Marque or Reprisal, I keep hoping someday they'll actually take the responsibility to declare war, rather than ceding authority to the President, which is what these "authorizations" effectively do. Of course, if you start thinking Paul's resolution is going anywhere, just remember your Randolph Bourne:

[E]ven in those countries where the business of declaring war is theoretically in the hands of representatives of the people, no legislature has ever been known to decline the request of an Executive, which has conducted all foreign affairs in utter privacy and irresponsibility, that it order the nation into battle. Good democrats are wont to feel the crucial difference between a State in which the popular Parliament or Congress declares war, and the State in which an absolute monarch or ruling class declares war. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.