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Presidential War Powers in the Age of Terror

The brief history of America’s global war on terrorism demonstrates the folly of allowing the executive branch a free hand in determining the scope and conduct of that conflict. Deference to Mr. Bush’s fixation with Saddam Hussein has cost the United States dearly. To expand that misadventure will only drive those costs higher. Furthermore, an attack on either Syria or Iran, launched merely on the president’s say-so, would produce a profound reaction, in all likelihood surpassing that induced by Richard Nixon’s 1970 incursion into Cambodia…

In the interests of national security today, we should curb presidential war-making powers. A hitherto compliant Congress must reclaim the institutional authority conferred upon it by the Constitution. When it comes to wars, the first responsibility of the legislative branch is not to support the commander in chief. It is to exercise independent judgment, an obligation that transcends party. Members of Congress who lack the wit or the moral courage to fulfill this obligation ought to be held accountable by voters.

-Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, writing in Tuesday’s NYTimes.

LINK to Bacevich’s Op-Ed in the NYTimes.

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