Iran (so far away)

By wanting to know what I was talking about, I have disqualified myself from ever being considered a Republican.

I guess that’s a good thing, really.

You see, when Obama announced the deal with Iran, I started reading articles about it to see exactly what it said. I went on my Facebook page and asked for advice from those who follow these things closer, and otherwise tried to educate myself before making an opinion.reagan

Not so the Republican party, whose motto is “If Obama is for it, we’re against it.” As soon as the 100-page treaty was announced, Marco Rubio had a commercial denouncing it for “allowing Iran to build a nuclear bomb.” From what I have read, it does the exact opposite, but hey, when have facts ever stood in the way of a good Republican rant?

Before the treaty, there was a policy of cutting Iran off from all trade. We had a lot of other countries working with us as well. The policy worked, because it got them to the negotiating table. The new treaty reinstates trade (good for business) and allows us to investigate and make sure they’re not building bombs (something we didn’t have the power to do before).

Now, did we get everything we wanted? No, of course not. That’s how negotiations work. That’s how treaties with other countries work. You get as much as you can, and it’s better to get 50% of what you want than 0% any day.

But that’s not how the GOP sees it: In their mind, it’s far better to go to war. (It’s also more profitable to the industries that bankroll the GOP.) And whatever is in the treaty doesn’t matter, because they’re against it, especially because they haven’t read it and think it does things it doesn’t do (“Don’t confuse my opinion with facts!”).

Keep in mind that the real reason they’re against it is because it was a treaty from Obama, who may have finally earned his Nobel Peace Prize. Had a Republican President made the exact same treaty, he’d be a great hero, like Nixon opening relationships with China.

The Constitution and War

When the Constitution was written, war was a lot simpler — for one thing, it took a long time. You had to move armies and ships and supplies and well, this just wasn’t done overnight.

So the Founding Fathers, wary of letting the President have too much power as Commander-in-Chief, wrote Article I, Section 8, which gave Congress the power to “declare war.”Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather Quill

They haven’t done that since World War II.

So now Obama is about to take actions against Syria that, by any standard, is an act of “war”. But we’ve allowed our Presidents to do this so many times that no one is seriously suggesting that this is unConstitutional any more. (Well, except for the Obama haters, most of whom had absolutely no problem with GW Bush doing the same thing, so we can ignore them.)

But it’s still not that simple. The Constitution does not define what a “war” is or what the process is for Congress to declare it, nor does it prevent the President as Commander-in-Chief from ordering troops anywhere he wants and so on.

During Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Act which severely limited the President’s power to keep troops somewhere without congressional approval. It has not been enforced since then.

On the other hand, Congress did approve Presidential actions in Iraq and Afghanistan even though they never officially called it a “war.”

Then there’s the question of treaties. If this is done with UN approval, maybe foreign treaties take precedence over the Constitution, like when we went into Libya. (Well, with drones.)

So as our President becomes more and more imperial during wartime, we seem to be sitting back and going along for the ride.

This is especially disturbing right now with Syria, because a vast majority of Americans want us to stay away from that terrible place (How often do you get 75% of Americans to agree on anything?).

I’d say this is a perfect time for Congress to step in and say “no” to the President, but sadly the vast majority of Congress is in agreement with him.

Editorial cartoon of the day