February 26,  2007

A Political War against the American People and its Institutions

by Rodrigue Tremblay

 

 

Second sorrow: "A loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal 'executive branch' of government into a military junta.

Chalmers Johnson (Sorrows of Empire)

 

"Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny."

Barry Goldwater, former Republican senator from Arizona

 

"Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our (U.S.) Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us."

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th U.S. president

 

“There are no hereditary kings in America.”

Judge Anna Diggs Taylor

 

The Iraq war is turning into a war against the American people and its institutions. According to the latest poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans (63 %) want U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of next year. This is the clear message the American electorate is sending to President George W. Bush. On February 16 (2007), 56 percent of the members of the U.S. House of Representative essentially said the same thing when they adopted Resolution 63, by a vote of 246 against 182, in which they stated that "... Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq." And, to make it complete, 56 percent of U.S. Senators signified their opposition to the war on February 17 (2007). These clear democratic signals of the people's wishes came after the November 7 (2006) election, in which pro-war Republican candidates took a thumping. They also came after a blue ribbon study group, the Baker-Hamilton Commission, unanimously concluded that the solution in Iraq is political and not military, and unanimously recommended that the U.S. terminate its open-ended presence in Iraq and begin its disengagement and “redeployment” from that country.

 

You would think that politicians who respect democracy and the people's right to govern themselves would pay attention and listen to what the sovereign electorate is saying. —But to no avail. The Bush-Cheney regime, initially placed into power by one Supreme judge in 2000, after presidential candidate Al Gore won the popular vote, went the other way and ordered a military build-up in the Persian Gulf, and, against the advice of the generals on the ground, ordered a military 'surge' in Iraq.

 

It is a strange spectacle in a democracy when the influence of a few people trumps the will of the majority. The Bush-Cheney regime seems to be inclined to follow the narrow advice of powerful lobbies rather than listen to what the electorate and elected officials are saying. In Washington D.C., under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has more clout than the U.S. Congress. On January 14 (2007), U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his personal conception of democracy when he said: "... they [the Congress] could try to stop me from doing it. But I’ve made my decision. And we’re going forward."And two weeks later, on January 25 (2007), oil-man Dick Cheney reinforced this cynical point of view by saying, after a Senate Committee adopted a resolution in opposition to Bush's plan for a military escalation in Iraq: "It won't stop us"..."We are moving forward." ... "We need to get the job done." And Cheney added defiantly it's "hogwash to say Bush's credibility is at stake in Iraq."

 

It does not matter that the Bush-Cheney team has made colossal errors of judgment, they feel they have absolute powers in their hands and they intend to use them for whatever project they have in mind, and damn the American public, damn the elected Congress, and damn world opinion. Indeed, this regime has resurrected President Richard Nixon's old and infamous philosophy of 'executive supremacy' and has even gone further in adopting the anti-democratic theory of an "imperial presidency.". According to this dangerous theory, there are no limits to presidential wartime powers, even when no such war has been declared by Congress. In such circumstances of his own choosing, a president could then stop recognizing the authority of the elected Congress and refuse to accept the courts as final arbiters of constitutional rights, each time he considers this role to be at odds with his vision of national security.

 

Of course, such an outright grasp for power smacks dictatorship and represents a direct attack on the U.S. Constitution, with its Checks and Balances and the Rule of Law at its center, provisions which have been precisely designed to avoid the pitfalls of dictatorship. Maybe people should have paid more attention when George W. Bush joked aloud that "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." (December 18, 2000), or when he proclaimed that "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best.“ (April 14, 2006)

 

As President and Father of the U.S. Constitution James Madison (1751-1836) put it: "There are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." In fact, most constitutional experts believe that Bush's claim for an imperial presidency is prima facie unconstitutional and is not supported by anything in the U.S. Constitution. In particular, it has been pointed out that the Bush-Cheney administration cannot invoke the October 2, 2002 Iraq resolution as a blank check to claim absolute powers, because this resolution explicitly invoked the War Powers Resolution  (1976 War Powers Act), Section 2(b), which requires the President of the United States to gain congressional approval before any troop deployment abroad.

 

Therefore, it remains to be seen if the Bush-Cheney regime can go on challenging the American people, Congress and the courts for two more years, not even considering international law and world public opinion.

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Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached at  rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

Also visit his blog site at www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author's Website:  www.thenewamericanempire.com

 

Check Dr. Tremblay's coming book "The Code for Global Ethics" at: http://www.MoralityWithoutReligion.com

 

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Posted, February 26, 2007, at 5:30 am

 

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