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Impeachment Should Be on the Table If Trump Bombs Iran

May 22, 2019 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

We’re told that the Trump administration’s
brinksmanship on Iran stems from a power grab by President Donald Trump’s
undeterrable national security advisor, John Bolton. And it’s
true that Bolton has never met a “preventive” war he didn’t
like
and that there’s every reason to suspect him of
scheming to create an excuse for one. But lately it’s getting
hard to distinguish President Trump from “President Bolton.” “If Iran
wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump
rage-tweeted Sunday. “Never threaten the
United States again!”

If the administration can’t be convinced to stand down,
the House of Representatives should launch a preemptive strike of
its own. They should credibly threaten to impeach the president if
he goes to war without congressional authorization.

Waging war without legal authority is an impeachable offense, if
anything is. Impeachment was designed to thwart attempts to subvert the Constitution;
congressional control of the war power was one of that
document’s core guarantees. “In no part of the
constitution is more wisdom to be found,” James Madison
affirmed, “than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace
to the legislature, and not to the executive department.”

Without Congress’s
approval, he has no legal authority to start a war, no matter what
John Bolton seems to think.

The first federal impeachment case, brought less than a decade
after the Constitution’s ratification, centered on charges of
unauthorized warmaking. In 1797, the House impeached Tennessee
Senator William Blount for conspiring to raise a private army for
“a military hostile expedition”
against Spanish-held Louisiana and Florida, “in violation of
the obligations of neutrality, and against the laws of the United
States.” In the Founding era, usurpation of the war power was
considered serious enough to merit the ultimate constitutional
remedy.

No president has yet been impeached for illegal warmaking, but
Richard Nixon came closest. In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee
debated impeaching Nixon for conducting a secret bombing campaign
in Cambodia “in derogation of the power of the Congress to
declare war.” The article never made it into the final
charges, possibly scuttled by Democratic leadership out of fear of
revealing “that a few prominent members
of their party had known about the secret bombing at the
time.” As Congressman William Hungate put it afterwards: “It’s kind of
hard to live with yourself when you impeach a guy for tapping
telephones and not for making war without authorization.”

Current members of Congress should find it hard to live with
themselves if they don’t do something …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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